How to Get a US Passport: A Quick and Simple Guide

Article description: It's a good idea to apply for a passport even if you don't need it immediately, so that you'll always have the option of going abroad at short notice. Here's a quick guide to getting the process started.

Whether you are planning a holiday or just a brief business trip, it's worth finding out how to get a US passport today: Many people wait until the last minute to find out how to get a US passport and are then unable to meet their travel commitments because of the time taken by the application process.

US Passport Renewal
Working out how to get a passport depends on whether or not you have had one before. Passport renewal is much simpler and quicker than getting a passport for the first time, even if it has been a long time since you've used your old passport.

As long as your passport is less than fifteen years old (and you were an adult when you received it) you can renew your passport by mail. To do so, you will need Form DS-82, (which can be downloaded online or found at your nearest passport facility). You will also need your old passport, and two matching passport photographs. The fee for renewal is $67.

Renewed passports can be sent only to US or Canadian addresses. If you live outside the US or Canada, contact your local US embassy for information on renewing your US passport.

More information on renewing your US Passport is here >

New US Passport Applications
If you are getting a US passport for the first time, you will need to apply for the passport in person. Passport facilities include many post offices, state and Federal courts, and even some county and municipal offices. This site gives you the nearest location of places to apply for a passport:
http://iafdb.travel.state.gov/

To apply for a passport, you will need Form DS-11 (available online or at your passport facility) and two matching passport photographs, as well as your birth certificate or certificate of citizenship. As proof of identity, you should take along a valid driver's license, a naturalization certificate, government ID, military ID, or a combination of identifying documents plus a US citizen who can identify you.

If you are over 16, you will need to pay a fee of $67 plus $30 for the service, including the new security surcharge. If you are under 16 you will only need to pay a total of $82. Once you have sent in your application, you can check your US Passport Status here.

Passports typically take between ten to twelve weeks to be processed, but if you need to get your US passport quickly, you can pay an extra $60 for expedited processing and get you passport within two to three weeks.

If you need your passport still more quickly than that (for emergency reasons) contact the National Passport Information Center, who can arrange to make special provisions on a case-by-case basis.

Many people put off traveling outside the United States because they are unsure how to go about getting a US passport, but it doesn't have to be complicated. And it's a good idea to apply for a passport even if you don't need it immediately, so that you'll always have the option of going abroad at short notice.