The United States does not use national ID cards. Instead authorities use passports, passport cards and state-issued driver's licenses as legal identification documents. Organizations and companies may also accept student IDs, military identification cards and other documents.
To get a passport, citizens of the U.S. must fill out Form DS-11 and submit it in person to a local Passport Application Acceptance Facility or to a Passport Agency, along with proof of U.S. citizenship status, an identification document with a photograph, and a photocopy of the identification document. Some accepted forms of citizenship evidence include: birth certificates, naturalization or citizenship certificates, and previously acquired U.S. passports. Applicants must provide the originals of these documents, as photocopies or notarized copies are not acceptable.
To get a passport card, applicants with passports must fill out the Form DS-82, and then submit it in person or send it by mail. However, those who have never applied for a passport must fill out Form DS-11 and submit it in person.
Applicants must pay a passport fee to initiate either application. The exact amount depends on how the application is to be handled.
Because driver's licenses are issued by states, the exact method of application depends on where the applicant resides. Typically, local DMV offices demand proof of a Social Security number, proof of lawful presence in the U.S., another valid ID and proof of residence in that state. Applicants must also pass a written test, a practical test and a vision exam.