How to Obtain Your U.S. Passport

 

Need a Passport? It’s easy!

 

If you are reading this, you have either made plans to go abroad or you’re toying with the idea.  No matter what stage you find yourself, getting a passport might seem daunting. 

 

 What do you need? Where do you go? How much does it cost? 

 

 But quite frankly, it’s not too bad! Follow these simple steps below, and you will have yourself a passport in no time! 

 

Step 1 – Gather Documents

 If you’re a first-time applicant, a minor, or you cannot renew your passport through the mail, then you will need to submit your application to a Post Office.  The following items below are everything you will need to procure. 

  1. Application forms (unsigned)
  2. Proof of identity document and a photocopy of the front and back
  3. Proof of U.S. Citizenship document and a photocopy of the front and back
  4. Passport fees (explained further below)

 

Step 2 – Prepare your application 

Visit the U.S. Department of State website to learn how to apply for a passport and what documents you need. Click here to download forms and find further instructions: 

  1. Complete your Form DS-11 Application for U.S. Passport on the State Department website (in the link above)
  2. Print your completed application.
    • DO NOT SIGN YOUR APPLICATION. A Postal employee must witness your signature.
  1. Have a passport photo taken.
    • NOTE: Many Post Offices with passport services can also take your photo. Call to confirm your Post Office takes photos.
    • Otherwise, you can get a photo at your local Walgreens or CVS.
  1. Photocopy your proof of identity and U.S. Citizenship documents.
  2. Calculate your fees.
    • Post Offices accept credit cards, checks, and money orders for Post Office acceptance fees.
    • State Department fees are mailed with your application. You can pay with a personal-check, certified-check, cashiers-check, travelers check  or money order payable to “U.S. Department of State.” 

 

Step 3: Locate a Post Office 

Post Offices have set hours for passport services. Many require an appointment. Use the Find USPS Locations tool to find the nearest Post Office offering passport services.

  1. Click here to find a USPS location  
  2. Select Passports from Location Types.
  3. Enter a ZIP Code™ or address.
  4. Select a mileage range.
  5. Click Refine search to select services such as a walk-in, appointment, or photos.
  6. Click Search

Now, let’s say you pushed off getting your passport or you simply forgot, and you now find yourself leaving in 2-3 weeks! Well have no fear, there are steps for that too!

 

Leaving within 2-3 Weeks?

To get a new passport application processed within 2–3 weeks, submit your application at a passport acceptance Post Office and pay for expedited processing and overnight delivery.

  1. Prepare your application package as listed in Step 2: Prepare Your Application Package.
  2. Add the expedited processing fee of $60, payable to the U.S. Department of State, to your other fees.
  3. USPS mails your application package to the State Department for processing. You can purchase Priority Mail Express® to expedite delivery (cost varies by location).
  4. Purchase overnight return delivery for $15.89, payable to the U.S. Department of State.

Leaving Within 2 Weeks or Less

NOTE: If you are traveling within 2 weeks or need a foreign visa within 30 days, you must apply at a Department of State passport agency. You can make an appointment online or call 1-877-487-2778 (1-888-874-7793 TDD/TTY).

Passport Fees

First-time passport applications have two types of basic fees, the application acceptance fee, and the application processing fee. Passport photos and fees for faster processing are extra.

Application Acceptance Fees – Postal Service

Pay acceptance fees in person at the Post Office. You may pay by check or money order, payable to “Postmaster,” debit card, or credit card.

  1. $35.00 – Post Office acceptance fee
  2. $15.00 – Post Office photo fee (if needed)

Application Processing Fees – Department of State

State Department payment is sent with your application package. State Department fees are paid separately from USPS fees.

  1. State Department Fees
    1. State Department passport fees vary. Calculate passport fees online.
  2. State Department Payment Methods
    1. NOTE: You may not pay State Department fees with credit or debit cards. You may pay with:
      1. Personal, certified, cashiers, or traveler’s check, payable to “U.S. Department of State.”
      1. Money Order payable to “U.S. Department of State.” You may purchase a money order at the Post Office with a debit card.

And that’s it!

Follow these steps and you will be on your way to getting a passport and opening new doors to endless adventures!

 

Additional Tips: 

  • Start early! It’s not uncommon for the passport process to take a bit of time. So if you want to avoid extra stress and spending more money, be sure to start the process before you plan your trip (we recommend 2-3 months prior to be safe). 
  • Passport fairs are useful places to get everything done. Usually held on Saturdays, they serve as one-stop shops (but come prepared to be there several hours)!-Check with your local post office for more information or to find one near you.

If you have any additional questions,  feel free to drop a comment below or shoot us an email.

 

Safe travels!

-Azsha

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post  was written in alignment with procedures found on Usps.gov

2 thoughts on “How to Obtain Your U.S. Passport

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