How To Get A Passport (Or Renew An Old One)

Passports allow travel and touring well beyond the borders of our home country. The feeling of freedom that comes from exploring foreign land is unmatched, but first you need a passport and that process is a whole lot less magical.

According to the U.S. government website, you cannot apply for a passport online. That means, if you're looking to renew your passport, you can either mail the application or apply in person. If you're looking to get your first passport you will need to apply in person.

You must apply in person if:
—You are applying for your first U.S. passport
—You are under age 16
—Your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under age 16
—Your Previous U.S. passport was lost, stolen or damaged
—Your Previous U.S. passport was issued more than 15 years ago
—Your name has changed since your U.S. passport was issued and you are unable to legally document your name change

There are special requirements for minors, no-fee applicants and individuals applying from outside of the U.S. Find information on special requirements here.

To Obtain a New Passport In Person:

Fill out the DS-11 form and bring it with you, but do not sign it until told to do so. You will also need to bring "primary evidence of U.S. Citizenship" and "primary identification," find details about which materials qualify here. Bring a photocopy of the primary identification, provide a check or money order for the fee ($110 application fee; $25 execution fee for standard passport books) and provide one passport photo.

Find information about passport photo requirements here.

If you're in a rush to receive your passport, visit a passport agency. If you're not in a rush, you should submit an application at a passport acceptance facility or mail the application. Find the nearest passport agency or passport acceptance facility here.

To Renew an Old Passport:

You can renew by mail if all of the following are true:

Your most recent U.S. Passport:
—Is undamaged and can be submitted with your application
—Was issued when you were age 16 or older
—Was issued within the last 15 years
—Was issued in your current name or you can legally document your name change with original or certified copy of your marriage certificate or the government-issued document evidencing your legal name change.

Fill out the DS-82 form and send it with the following materials:
—Your most recent passport
—A personal check or money order to cover the fees ($110 for a standard passport book)
—One passport photo (attached to the DS-82 form with four staples vertically in the corners)
—If your name has changed, send a document that says so, like a marriage certificate

Mail all of the above in a large envelope through a mail carrier that can trace the envelope.

The mailing address is different for Expedite Service Requests and Routine Service Requests.

    Expedite Service:

    Write "EXPEDITE" clearly on the outside of the mailing envelope and mail the completed application to:

                National Passport Processing Center

                Post Office Box 90955

                Philadelphia, PA 19190-0955

    Routine Service:

    Mail the completed application to:

                National Passport Processing Center

                Post Office Box 90155

                Philadelphia, PA 19190-0155

Allow 2-3 months for passports to arrive, routine service usually takes anywhere from 1-4 weeks, depending on the situation. For more information visit the U.S. Passports & International Travel website.

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