Passport Application & RenewalPage Overview
The passport card is a newly released document that’s valid for travel only to Canada, Mexico, or Bermuda by land or sea. If you’re traveling to any other destination, or traveling to these countries by air, the passport card is not a valid substitute for a passport book.
See the State Department’s page about passport cards to learn more about this subject, including how to apply for the card.
Before you go through the application process, be sure travel to your destination actually requires a passport. For instance, you don't need a passport if you're an American citizen traveling to any of the 50 states, the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Swains Island, or the Virgin Islands. However, if you're traveling through a foreign county en route to your U.S. destination, you will need a passport.
Your choice of transportation also affects whether you'll need a passport. If you're traveling to Canada or Mexico on the ground or by sea, you won't need one (although you do need to provide another type of proper identification, such as a passport card, enhanced driver's license (EDL), or trusted traveler program card). If you're traveling to those countries by air, though, you must have a passport.
The U.S. Department of State provides an informative passport guide that makes it simple to determine whether you need a passport. All you have to do is enter your travel destination.
If you are traveling out of the country within 30 days and need a passport, passport renewal, or to replace a lost or stolen passport a passport expediting service such as Fastport Passport can help. Registered courier services authorized by the US Department of State can expedite passports as quickly as 24 hour when traveling with in 14 days.
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Recent Rule Changes for U.S. Land or Sea Entry
Most U.S. citizens returning from a trip to Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, or the Caribbean by land or sea must produce a single acceptable document to re-enter the country, such as a passport, passport card, EDL, or trusted traveler program card. This means you can no longer confirm your identity and citizenship by presenting multiple documents, such as a basic driver's license along with a birth certificate.
However, those younger than 16 years old can still simply show an original or copy of their birth certificate, or their citizenship card or naturalization certificate.
Also, children who are U.S. citizens between the ages of 16-18 and traveling with a social organization, or religious, school, or sports group will be allowed to enter the country with their birth certificates or other proof of citizenship― providing they're with adult supervision.
U.S. citizens traveling on a cruise ship that begins and ends at the same U.S. port are allowed to follow the old rules; meaning, two documents (such as a valid driver's license and a birth certificate) are sufficient. However, be aware you may need a passport to enter certain countries that you may be visiting as a cruise ship passenger.
On the other hand, U.S. citizens traveling on ferries and small boats must comply with the new regulations.
Where to Go
First-time passport applicants must apply in person at any of a variety of local locations (including select post offices, clerk of court offices, and public libraries), or at regional passport agencies.
However, you should only apply at a regional agency if you're traveling within 14 days, or you need a foreign visa within four weeks. In either case, you must schedule an appointment for your visit by calling the automated appointment system at (877) 487-2778. There isn't an extra fee to make an appointment.
Even if this isn't your first U.S. passport, you'll need to apply in person if any of the following are true:
- You're younger than 16 years old.
- Your first U.S. passport was issued when you were younger than 16 years old.
- Your last U.S. passport was stolen, damaged, or lost.
- You obtained your last U.S. passport more than 15 years ago.
- You've changed your name after your last U.S. passport was issued and you can't provide legal documentation for your name change.
What to Bring
Make sure you have the following with you when you apply for your passport:
- A completed Form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport that includes your Social Security number (don't sign the form until you're told to do so at the location).
- Proof of citizenship, by means of a certified U.S. birth certificate, undamaged U.S. passport, Naturalization Certificate, Certificate of Citizenship, or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth.
- Proof of identity, by means of a valid driver's license, undamaged U.S. passport, Naturalization Certificate, current government ID, current military ID, or undamaged U.S. passport. (If you don't have any of these documents, you may proceed through a secondary means.)
- Two color passport photographs of yourself taken within the past six months that meet all the requirements.
- Payment for the passport (only) fee of either $110 (adult) plus a $25 execution fee, or $80 (younger than 16 years old) plus a $25 execution fee.
- Payment for the passport card (and book) fee of either $140 (adult) plus a $25 execution fee, or $95 (younger than 16 years old) plus a $25 execution fee.
NOTE: Passport agencies accept: Credit cards (MasterCard, Discover, VISA, American Express), debit cards, checks (personal, cashiers, certified, travelers), money orders and bank drafts.
Processing Times and Expedited Services
Your wait time to receive your passport varies depending on the time of year.
Expedited service is also available―for an extra $60 per application, plus the overnight shipping costs. If you're dealing with a life-or-death situation, call the National Passport Information Center at (877) 487-2778 for instructions on how to proceed.
Passports for Those Younger Than 18
Be aware that all travelers―including infants and toddlers―must have their own passport.
If there a mistake on your passport or your name changed since you last used it, follow the instructions provided by the State Department to correct the passport. Depending on your situation, you might face an additional fee.Other Topics in This Section