Q:

How do you obtain a U.S. passport?

A:

Quick Answer

Obtain a U.S. passport by submitting an application, proving U.S. citizenship, showing identification, providing a photo and paying the required fee. First-time applicants must appear in person, while renewals can be done by mail.

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Full Answer

  1. Submit an application

    Download and print out form DS-11, Application for a U.S. Passport, from the U.S. Passports and International Travel section of the U.S. Department of State website. Fill in all the required personal information. Submit the application and other materials at an authorized passport acceptance agency. These include post offices, libraries, clerks of court and other government offices. Use the search page on the Department of State website to find one near you. Alternatively, make an appointment at a regional passport agency, and pay an extra fee for service.

  2. Prove your U.S. citizenship

    Show proof of your U.S. citizenship by providing a certified U.S. birth certificate, consular report of birth abroad, naturalization certificate, certificate of citizenship or previous U.S. passport.

  3. Show current identification

    Establish your identity by providing a valid U.S. driver's license, current military ID, current government ID, or current or expired U.S. passport. If one of these forms of ID is unavailable, show a combination of secondary IDs, such as a Social Security card, library card, credit card or employee ID.

  4. Provide a photo

    Provide a 2-inch by 2-inch color head shot with a plain background. Face the camera directly with a neutral expression.

  5. Pay the fee

    Pay the standard fee, and pay an additional expedited fee if you want the passport quickly. At authorized passport acceptance facilities, pay by personal check, money order or bank draft made out to the Department of State. Some locations also accept cash. At passport agencies, pay by credit card, check, money order or cash.

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