You’ve finally gotten tired of seeing the same places and faces everyday. You want to see what else is out there in this big world. You’ve heard your friends’ stories about vacations in exotic lands and drooled over Instagram reels showcasing gorgeous landscapes. The time has come for you to make the move and apply for a US passport for the first time.
Applying for a passport is an essential step for those planning to travel internationally. For a first-timer, applying for one might be a little intimidating. The form has so much print all over the place. It probably asks for your whole life’s story, right? Kind of, but not really. Filling out the passport application is actually quite simple. With a little guidance, you’ll be able to complete the application process without hassle. From filling out the application form to scheduling an appointment, we will walk through each step, making the process as simple and efficient as possible. So, whether you’re a first-time applicant or need to renew your passport, read on to discover how to navigate the application process and obtain your US passport hassle-free.
Bring Required Documents
As a first time passport applicant, you will need to apply in person at your local passport acceptance facility. Along with the application forms, there are a few other key documents that you will need to bring with you.
Proof of U.S. Citizenship
First up is proof of US citizenship. Acceptable forms of proof are a certified birth certificate, a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship, a previous passport, or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth Abroad. If your birth certificate was filed more than a year after your birth or you have no record of birth on file, secondary documents can be submitted. Make sure these documents are in good condition and provide clear information about your identity.
Proof of Identity
Next, you’ll need to present a form of government-issued identification to further establish your identity. This can be a driver’s license, a military ID, a current or previous U.S. passport, a government employee ID, or a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship. Submit a photocopy of both sides of this ID.
Another key item is a recent color photo that follows all of a specific set of guidelines detailed in the instructions section of the passport application forms. The photo should be 2×2 inches, taken less than 6 months prior to your application, and show your full face. Your head should be 1-1 3/8 inches from the bottom of your chin to the top of your head. In the photo, nothing should obstruct your face, like a hat, glasses, or head covering. The U.S. Department of State allows a head covering if you have “a signed statement that verifies that it is part of a recognized, traditional religious attire that is customarily or required to be worn continuously in public or a signed doctor’s statement verifying its daily use for medical purposes.” Eyewear is not acceptable unless a signed statement from a doctor explaining why it can’t be removed is submitted. Clothing should be everyday clothing and not a work uniform or camouflage print.
Proof of Parental Relationship
If the passport is for a child or minor, then you will need to submit proof of your parental relationship to the child or proof of parental awareness. The parents or guardians of the child must apply in person with the child present. If both parents or guardians are unable to appear, the parent who can’t attend will need to submit a signed and notarized statement, less than 3 months old, consenting to the issuance of a passport. Along with that statement, include a photocopy of the front and back of that parent’s government-issued ID. In the case of one deceased parent, bring the death certificate. In the case of one one parent having sole custody of the child, evidence needs to be provided. If one parent is unreachable, then present a written statement explaining why.
Proof of Parental Awareness
This is for applicants who are 16 and 17 years old. In this case, the Department of State may request consent from one the applicant’s parents or guardians. During your appointment with the passport authorizing officer, they may ask for supporting documents, but what they ask for is up to their discretion.
Schedule an Appointment at a Passport Acceptance Facility
A Passport Acceptance Facility is a specialized center that handles passport applications and provides assistance in a secure environment. You can avoid long waiting times by making an appointment. This ensures that the By choosing a reputable facility, you can feel confident that the necessary security measures are in place to protect sensitive personal information and prevent any unauthorized access. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your passport application process will be smooth and secure.
Additionally, by arranging an appointment you can benefit from the expertise of a passport acceptance agent who can guide you through the application process. The agent is well-versed in the requirements and regulations and will verify the authenticity of the documents provided so that all information is correctly recorded. Having the help of a passport acceptance agent minimizes the chances of errors and delays. When it comes to applying for a passport, scheduling an appointment at a Passport Acceptance Facility is the smart choice for a seamless and secure experience.
Complete the DS-11 Application Form
The DS-11 application form is the vital document you need to complete in order to start the process of obtaining your passport. It is the gateway to your international travels. From the moment you start filling in the necessary details, you are well on your way to round-the-world adventures.
Check, double check, and triple check to ensure that you accurately complete every section of the form, providing all the required information. The DS-11 application form provides detailed instructions to guiding you through the process.
Pay The Passport Fees
Prepare to pay the necessary fees for your new passport. The Department of State has implemented a straightforward and efficient system to ensure a smooth process. The application fee varies depending on the type of passport and the age of the applicant. These fees are subject to change, so it’s advisable to check the official website for the most up-to-date information. You’ll need to pay a passport fee and an acceptance fee. It’s important to note that these fees are non-refundable.
The Department of State offers multiple options to pay for your passport application. Acceptable forms of payment are check (personal, certified, cashier’s, or traveler’s) and money order. Print your full name and date of birth on the front and make it payable to “U.S. Department of State”. Pay the acceptance fee to the acceptance facility in whatever form of payment it accepts. Check with your acceptance facility to find out what method of payment is acceptable. If you prefer, you can also pay by credit card, either in person or by mail. Many locations do not accept cash payments.
If you are applying from outside the U.S., you may pay by check (personal, certified, cashier’s, travelers), money order, major credit card (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover), or exact cash. Check with your embassy, consulate, or consular agency within your current country to see what forms of payment they allow.
Before applying, check with the facility to learn what payment options are available. You don’t want to show up with the wrong payment method and end up delaying the process.
Choose a Processing Time Frame
When paying for your passport, you’ll need to choose between routine and expedited processing. This choice will determine the speed at which you receive your passport. If you are not in a hurry to obtain your passport, the routine processing option might be the ideal choice. The standard processing time as of March 2023, takes between 10 to 13 weeks. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you need your passport urgently, then expedited processing is the way to go. This faster option reduces the processing time to around 7 to 9 weeks. A third option is the expedited at agency option. With this option, the agency can expedite your passport if your travel is within 14 days due to an emergency situation. A qualified emergency would be a life-or-death situation involving an immediate family member, urgent international travel within 14 days, or a proven need to obtain a foreign visa within 28 days. Keep in mind that additional fees apply for expedited services. If the expedited service takes longer than the service comittment, you can request a refund of the expedite fee.
Weigh your options and consider your specific needs when deciding between routine and expedited processing. By carefully considering the urgency of your situation, you can select the processing method that best suits your needs.
To Sum It All Up
Now you have a pretty good idea of what to expect and how to apply for a US passport for the first time. Gather the necessary documents, schedule an appointment at a passport acceptance facility, complete the DS-11 application form, and pay the associated application fees. You can no successfully apply for a US passport!