Passport Information

Frequently Asked Questions about Passports & Travel Documents

Who has to show a passport?

US citizens older than 16 years old have to show a passport, passport card or another accepted document to cross back into the U.S. Children under 16 may show an original or copy of their birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a Naturalization Certificate, or a passport if they have one.

Won’t my driver’s license and birth certificate work?

If your drivers license is an Enhanced Driver’s License from New York, Vermont, Washington, or Michigan it will be accepted. Drivers licenses from California, Arizona, Texas and the rest of the U.S. states are NOT acceptable with a birth certificate like before.

What else is accepted besides a passport?

Passport Card,SENTRI pass and Enhanced Driver’s License

How do I apply for a passport?

It depends on whether or not you are applying for the first time. If you are applying for your very first passport, you will have to make an appointment at your nearest passport agency to submit your application in person. If you are just renewing your passport, you may be eligible to renew it through the mail.

Do I have to make an appointment to get a passport?

If you need to apply for your passport in person or if you need your passport processed within two weeks, you DO need to make an appointment. All passport agencies take applications by appointment only. You should call in advance. Most of the agencies in the US are open between 9am and 4pm, although some offices do close at 3:30pm.

After I have made my appointment, what do I need to bring when I go to it?

There are several things that you should bring with you to your appointment.

First you need your “Application for Passport” Form DS-11.

Next, you will need to bring present proof of US citizenship. This proof may include a valid birth certificate, an expired passport a consular report of birth abroad, a naturalization certificate, a certificate of citizenship, etc.

You will also need to bring along proof of your identity. You can prove your identity with a previous US passport, a naturalization certificate, or a current (valid) US driver’s license, government ID (city/state/federal) or military ID (military/dependents).

You’ll need to have two passport photos. They should be 2×2 inches, identical to each other, taken within the last 6 months (showing how you look right now), in color, showing your full face from a front view with a plain white or off-white background, and between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head. You should also be wearing normal street clothes.

Remember rates are always subject to change. You should call your local Post Office in advance to verify the current rates. Acceptable forms of payment vary from agency to agency. You should call your local agency first, before showing up for your appointment.

What if I just have to renew my passport? Do I still need to go into the office, or can I do it by mail?

You can renew your passport by mail if, you already have a passport that is not damaged and you received it within the past 15 years. Also you were at least 16 years old when it was issued and you still have the same name that was in your old passport.

All of this must be accurate, in order for you to renew by mail. There are a couple of exceptions where you will need to go into a passport agency to renew, even if you meet the above conditions.

a.. if you are a US citizen living abroad, you must renew your passport at the nearest US Embassy or US Consulate. 
b.. passports renewed by mail in the US may only be mailed to US addresses. 
c.. if you mutilate or alter your US passport, you have invalidated it and are risking possible prosecution under the law (Section 1543 of Title 22 of the US Code). 
d.. if your passport has been mutilated, altered or damaged, you cannot apply by mail. You must apply in person.

If I’m eligible to renew my passport by mail, what do I need to do?

Fill out and mail in the DS-82 form. Next, attach to it your most recent passport, two identical passport photos, and a $67 fee payable to the US Department of State. If your name has changed since you got your last passport, you should also attach a certified copy of the legal document specifying your name change.

Mail all of this together to:

National Passport Center 
P.O. Box 371971 
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7971

How long is getting a new passport going to take?

If you go through the general application process, turn around times are four to six weeks for the US Department of State to process your passport.

Do I need to bring anything special if I am applying for a passport for my child?

Yes, here are the basic steps:

First off, all minors who are US Citizens must apply for their passports in person.

In addition, in order to get a passport for a child under the age of 14, both parents or the child’s legal guardians must appear and present all of the following:

a.. Evidence of the child’s US citizenship 
b.. Evidence of the child’s relationship to parents/guardians AND 
c.. Parental Identification.

If only one parent appears, you must also submit the following:

a.. A notarized written statement by the second parent, consenting to passport issuance for the child, 
b.. Primary evidence of sole authority to apply, OR A notarized written statement (made under penalty of perjury) which explains the second parent’s unavailability.

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