1, 2008, all U.S. citizens, including children, need a valid passport for travel to another
country. Make sure your passport will not expire before or during your
trip. If you need a new passport, apply at least 6 weeks before
It takes up to 6 weeks to get a
passport. For an additional $60 fee, you can ask for an expedited process (about 2 weeks).
Book vs. Passport Card
A passport book is the
standard passport we are all familiar with.
A passport card is the
wallet-size travel document that can only be used to re-enter the United
States at land border-crossings and sea ports-of-entry from Canada,
Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. The card provides a less expensive,
smaller, and convenient alternative to the passport book for those who
travel frequently to these destinations by land or by sea. The card was
designed mainly for the convenience of people living close to the border,
with a frequent need to cross it. It has been available to US citizens since
2008. Most of us don't need it.
The passport card cannot be
used for international travel by air.
How to get a passport
You need to fill out one of these
DS-11 - for first time applicants, for applying in person.
DS-82 - if you qualify for renewal by mail.
The best place to start is the
US State Department Passport Service web site at:
or call the U.S. National Passport Information Center: (877) 4USA-PPT.,
which is: 877-487-2778.
For a first-time application, you
need to apply in person (not via the internet). But, at least you can get
all the information at the web site. For renewals, you can do it all
You can usually apply at the Main
Post Office in town, or at the County Recorder's Office. A complete list of
over 7,000 locations can be found at the US State Department web site above.
Fees: The passport application fee
for passport book $110.
The application fee for a passport book and card is $140.
For a new passport, add to that an execution fee of $25. For
renewals, this fee is not necessary.
When you apply for the first
time, you will need the following:
1. Fill Out Form DS-11: Application For A U.S. Passport
2. Submit Completed Form DS-11 In Person
3. Submit Evidence of U.S. Citizenship
4. Present Identification
5. Submit a Photocopy of the Identification Document(s) Presented
6. Pay the Applicable Fee
7. Provide One Passport Photo
To renew a passport, you
don't need to send in an execution fee. Send only $110 (for
passport book) or $140 for passport book and card).
Fill Out Form DS-82: Application For A U.S. Passport by Mail
Submit your most recent U.S. passport book and/or card
Submit a certified copy of your marriage certificate or court order if
your name has changed
Pay the Applicable Fee
Provide One Passport Photo
Printed on matte or glossy
photo quality paper
2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) in
Sized such that the head is
between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (between 25 and 35 mm) from the bottom
of the chin to the top of the head. View the
Photo Composition Template for more size requirement details.
Taken within the last 6
months to reflect your current appearance.
Taken in front of a plain
white or off-white background.
Taken in full-face view
directly facing the camera.
With a neutral facial
expression and both eyes open.
If you are taking a digital
photo of yourself, the image dimensions must be in a square aspect ratio
(the height must be equal to the width). Minimum acceptable dimensions
are 600 x 600 pixels. Maximum acceptable dimensions are 1200 x 1200
Mail your application to:
National Passport Processing Center
Post Office Box 90155
Philadelphia, PA 19190-0155