How to Apply for a U.S. Passport | Travel
 
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How to Apply for a U.S. Passport

For American citizens wishing to travel outside of the United States and it’s territories, a valid passport is required. The U.S. Department of State oversees all applications for and processing of passports for citizens. If you don’t already have a passport, applying for one does take some time so make sure to start the process at least four to six weeks before you are scheduled to leave the country. By following these seven simple steps, also found of the website of the Department of State, you will be well on your way to obtaining your very own U.S. passport.
Step-by-step
1

Fill out an application for a U.S. passport

The Department of State refers to this as Form DS-11. You can either fill it out online or by hand. Remember to provide your Social Security Number and don’t sign the application until you meet with an Acceptance Agent.
2

Submit Form DS-11

You must complete this step in person at an approved Acceptance Facility or Passport Agency. Examples of Acceptance Facilities include many post offices, public libraries, local or state government centers, or you can go directly to one of 25 regional Passport Agencies.
3

Submit evidence of citizenship

When you submit your passport application in person, you must also include proof of U.S. citizenship. This can be done by providing a previously issued U.S. passport, a certified birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or your certificate of citizenship. Don’t worry, these documents will be returned to you after your passport has been issued.
4

Present proof of identity

In addition to showing evidence of citizenship, you must also provide an acceptable form of identification. This can either be a previously issued U.S. passport, naturalization certificate, valid driver’s license, government ID, or current military ID.
5

Submit a photocopy of your identification document(s)

You must submit a photo copy of the front and back of all identifying documents (see Step 4) when you apply in person. Make sure this is on plain white copy paper that is no larger and no smaller than 8½ x 11 inches. This will physically be included in your passport application.
6

Pay the appropriate fee

Unfortunately official travel documents like passports are not provided free from the government. So with your application, you must include the applicable fee. Depending on whether you are applying for an adult or minor passport and/or passport card, there could be different fees involved. There are a number of optional services, including expedited service or overnight delivery, which will affect the overall price of your passport. Be sure to check the Department of State’s website for the most current figures.
7

Provide a passport photo

There are a number of specific requirements for passport photos, but essentially the photo must be in color and printed on photo quality paper not to exceed 2 x 2 inches in size. It must be taken within the last 6 months, you should be directly facing the camera, and you should only wear glasses or hearing devices if you would normally wear those items on an everyday basis. You can usually get your photos taken, for an additional fee, at the Passport Agency or Acceptance Facility when you apply in person. Or you can go any number of local businesses that have the capabilities of taking valid passport photos.

After completing all these steps and submitting your passport application, all you have to do is relax and wait for the Department of State to issue your passport. Typically adult passports are valid for 10 years after the issue date. Once your passport has arrived at your address, you are ready to set off to your next foreign destination!
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