Applying for a passport for the first time can be stressful. This guide will help you understand the requirements for a passport, so you can start preparing.
Did you know that 42% of all Americans have been issued a passport? That’s up from 27% in 2007.
And just last year in 2017, a new record was set for the most passports issued ever at 21.4 million. To put things into perspective, in 1997 only 6.3 million passports were issued.
But it’s not always so simple to get a new passport. There are certain requirements for a passport that must be adhered to. There are passport forms DS 11 to fill out and sign properly.
If it’s not filled out right, it could get sent back. Not a great thing to happen if you already have plans to travel abroad. To help you through the process and get it right the first time, here’s everything you need to know.
The Requirements for a Passport
There are certain documents required for a passport. Passport forms DS 11 should be filled out entirely if you qualify for at least one of the following rules.
If you are applying for your first US passport, form DS 11 should be filled out. If you’re a minor under age 16, this is also the form to fill out.
Also, if your first passport was issued to you when you were under age 16, you should fill out form DS 11.
You also need to fill out this form if your passport was lost, stolen, damaged, or issued more than 15 years ago. Passports are for 10 years so if yours expired over five years ago, you’ll need to fill out this form.
To learn more about how to properly fill out passport forms DS 11, read more now.
Documents Required for a Passport
Obviously, you’ll need documentation to prove that you are who you say you are and that you are a legal citizen of the United States of America. That requires a bit of documentation that you need to show copies of.
Proof of Citizenship
You’ll first need to prove that you are a US citizen. Expired passports work for both citizens born in and outside of the United States. If it’s in a foreign language, it must include a professional English translation.
Birth certificates are also acceptable, but if you were born in the United States, your birth certificate must have been issued by the city, county, or state of your birth. It must also contain the seal of issuing authority, list your parent(s) names, and be signed by the registrar.
If you were born outside the US and it’s in a foreign language, it must include a professional English translation.
A certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship is also acceptable forms to prove your identity and citizenship.
Do NOT bring or mail original copies of these documents as they may be lost. Instead, make a photocopy of the front and the back (if there’s anything to show) of the documents to send as proof of citizenship.
Proof of Identity
If you apply for your passport in person, you must bring some additional information with you. If you choose to go to a passport facility outside of where your license is from, you’ll need additional identification.
If you mail in your forms, make a copy of the front and back of your photo identification card. All copies must be presented using an 8″ x 11″ paper in black and white. Do not try to save paper by making double-sided copies as this is not acceptable.
However, if you’re in-state, you can just bring your valid driver’s license, permit, or non-driver ID. These forms of identification must include a photograph of you.
You can also bring your Government employee ID, US military ID, or your current Green Card. If you have any Trusted Travel IDs such as a Glocal Entry, FAST, SENTRI or NEXUS cards, those are acceptable forms of ID, too.
List Any Special Circumstances
In most cases, you won’t need to list any special circumstances. However, if you’re traveling with or are a child under age 17 or your previous passport was lost or stolen, this is a special circumstance.
Also, if you owe over $2,500 in child support, this is also considered a special circumstance.
If you are requesting a gender designation change, you’ll need to list this as well.
Lastly, anyone traveling in an official diplomatic capacity or has received a special issuance passport also should list this as a special circumstance.
Provide Two Passport Photos
They’ll ask you to provide two passport photos even though only one is used to make the new passport. Most likely, they’ll return the second one to you.
Do not try to take the photograph yourself. It’s far easier to simply go to your local drugstore, camera shop, or even library to have them professionally taken. If you’re not in a rush, most often new passport photos cost around $12.
Pay the Fees
It costs money for them to process your passport so it costs money for you to apply for one. The more of the process you do yourself, the cheaper it will be.
The application for a passport book is $110 for adults and $80 for any child under 16. For a passport card, it’s $30 for adults and $15 for kids under 16.
You can also get a passbook card and book issued to you at the same time. The cost for both is $140 for adults and $95 for kids under 16.
The Best Place to Get a Passport
You have options for where to go to get your passport. You can download passport forms DS 11 and fill it out yourself. After gathering all your documents, making copies, and getting proper photographs, you can simply mail it in yourself.
You can also go to an acceptance facility to have it processed. Either way, it usually takes between four and six weeks to get your new passport back. If you have immediate travel plans, you should consider getting it expedited.
Expediting Your Passport
If you’re in a rush because of a business trip or a wedding, you should get your passport expedited. There are services that do it for you but they are costly. You can also contact your local passport agency or center to expedite yours quickly. It usually takes less than a week to get everything back.
If there’s an immediate need to get a passport due to an emergency, such as someone taking seriously ill or someone passing away, you’ll need to bring along the usual information and proof of the emergency as well. Contact 1-877-487-2778 to make an appointment.
Traveling abroad is fun and exciting. But if you don’t have all the proper requirements for a passport, the process is tedious and frustrating. Make sure you have everything you need with you before you get it processed.
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