What do you need in order to get a US passport?

Acquiring a United States passport as a first time applicant can be a headache if the applicant doesn’t know the procedure. There are very specific steps that need to be taken and, if an applicant follows these steps, he or she should be able to obtain their passport in a time frame of just one to two weeks.

Have photo taken ahead of time

Before filling out forms or searching for other required documentation, applicants for U.S. passports should have their photo taken and printed within the requirement guidelines to provide to an acceptance agent at the time of application. Photos must be in color and be sized at 2×2 inches. The photo must also be taken within six months of the intended application. The photo background must be white or off-white and the applicant should be facing full forward in the photo. The photo must also be printed on photo-quality paper. The photo should resemble the applicant’s normal day-to-day appearance.

Filling out the DS-11 form

The U.S. government requires first time applicants to fill out Form DS-11. Applicants can fill out this form online or by hand, but it is imperative that they do not sign the form ahead of time. First time applicants must show up in person at an acceptance facility or passport agency. If an applicant fills out Form DS-11 ahead of time either online or by hand, he or she should take the form to the chosen facility and sign the form when told to do so by an acceptance agent. Also, applicants filling out the DS-11 form must provide a valid social security number. If they do not, the application will be denied.

Provide evidence of U.S. citizenship

When an applicant arrives at the acceptance facility or passport agency, they have to provide the DS-11 form as well as documentation proving U.S. citizenship. Documentation is limited to a certified U.S. birth certificate, consular report of birth abroad or certification of birth, a naturalization certificate, a citizenship certificate or an undamaged, previously issued U.S. passport. Without one of these items, the application will not be accepted.

Provide proof of identification

When applying for a U.S. passport in person, you must also provide proof of identification. A valid driver’s license, current military or government ID, naturalization certificate or previously issued, undamaged U.S. passport will suffice as identification.

Photocopy your documents

To expedite the application process, applicants are encouraged to bring photocopies of their evidence of U.S. citizenship and identification on 8.5×11 paper. Applicants must photocopy the front and back of each of the evidence and ensure there are no stray marks on the copies. While enlargements of the documentation are allowed, applicants should not decrease the size of any of the documents.

Pay the application fee

There are fees related to the application and process of a U.S. passport. New passports cost between $100 and $200 depending on any special options the applicant requires. For first time applicants, these fees must be paid in person to the acceptance agent during the application process.


Following the rules and procedures

Applicants who plan ahead and ensure they have all the proper documentation, identification and photos will be able to expedite the process of acquiring a U.S. passport. Once the application has been processed, applicants can expect to receive their passports via U.S. mail in one to two weeks.

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