How to Get a New Passport
Applying for your first passport can be a little bit daunting, but there's no need to be intimidated. As long as you know what to expect and come prepared, you shouldn't have any problems. To help you get ready, here's a quick rundown of the relevant rules, regulations and requirements.
Apply At a Passport Office
To get a new passport, you must apply in a person with documents to prove that you are eligible to receive a US passport. Most cities and towns have at least one passport office, usually located inside a post office, library or municipal building. You can find the location that's most convenient to your home or office by searching on the Department of State's website.
To get a passport, you have to demonstrate two things: You are who you say you are, and you are a US citizen. So, you'll need to bring the following documents:
Proof of identity, such as a driver's license or another government-issued photo ID. You'll need both the original document and a clear photocopy.
Proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship.
One passport photo
A completed copy of passport application form DS-11. One important thing to remember as you fill out the form: Do not sign it until the passport agent tells you to. If you jump the gun, the application is invalid and you'll have to fill it out again.
If you only need a passport book, you'll pay an application fee of $110 plus an execution fee of $25. If you want both a passport book and a passport card, you'll pay an application fee of $140 plus the $25 execution fee. If you want just a passport card, the application fee is only $30, but keep in mind that you can only use a passport card to travel by land or sea to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. It is not valid for travel to other countries or for international air travel.
Once you apply, it will probably take about six weeks for your new passport to arrive. If you paid the extra $60 for expedited service, you can generally expect it within three weeks. If you need yours sooner than that, you can't apply at the post office. Instead, make an appointment to visit the nearest Regional Passport office, and bring a copy of your itinerary to show that you have plans to leave the country within the next 14 days, or use a private company to expedite your passport for you.
About the Author:
Alison Kroulek is a freelance writer and blogger with a focus on the travel industry.