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 passport application process, be sure travel to your destination actually requires a passport. For instance, you don't need a US 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.
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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 US 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, anyone 15 years old and younger may show an original or a copy of their birth certificate, or their citizenship card or naturalization certificate.
View the complete list of acceptable documents needed to re-enter the country by land or sea at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) site.
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, 2 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 2 weeks, or you need a foreign visa within 4 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 are 15 years old and younger.
- 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 US passport:
- A completed Application for a U.S. Passport (Form DS-11) 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.)
- 1 color passport photographs of yourself taken within the past 6 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 Minors
Be aware that all travelers―including infants and toddlers―must have their own passport.
If there a mistake on your U.S. 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