A valid passport is necessary for U.S. citizens to enter nearly 80% of the world?s countries and highly recommended in most of the others as definitive proof of one?s identity and citizenship.
If you answer yes to any one of the following, you should apply for a new passport.
Are you applying for a U.S. passport for the first time?
Was your previous U.S. passport lost, stolen, or damaged?
Has your previous U.S. passport expired and was it issued more than 15 years ago?
Has your previous passport expired and was it issued when you were under 16?
Has your name changed since your passport was issued and you don?t have a legal document formally changing your name?
To apply for a new passport, you need to provide the six items below.
1. Completed Form-DS11, Application for Passport.
The form can be downloaded at the U.S. Department of State web site or the sites of many travel agencies and travel document expediters.
When filling out the form, check everything twice. Don?t sign the application until you do so in the presence of an acceptance agent.
2. Proof of U.S. Citizenship.
The two most frequently used documents to prove citizenship are a previous U.S. passport or a certified birth certificate. There are three things to look for on a certified birth certificate: a registrar”s raised, embossed, impressed or multicolored seal; the registrar’s signature; and the date the certificate was filed with the registrar”s office, which must be within 1 year of your birth.
If you don?t have either of the documents above, you can provide a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, Naturalization Certificate or a Certificate of Citizenship.
Voter registration cards and army discharge papers are not acceptable proof of citizenship.
3. Proof of identity.
A previous U.S. passport can also serve to prove your identity. If you don?t have one, you can provide a Naturalization Certificate, Certificate of Citizenship, a current, valid Driver?s license, government ID or military ID.
4. Two passport photos.
The two photos must be 2 x 2 inches, identical, taken within the last 6 months, show a full face, front view and have a plain white or off-white background. You should dress in normal street attire. Hats, headgear, dark glasses and uniforms, except for religious retire that is worn daily, are not acceptable. Prescription glasses with clear lenses are.
5. Applicable fees.
Age 16 and older: The passport fee is $55. The security surcharge is $12. The execution fee is $30. The total is $97.
Under Age 16: The passport fee is $40. The security surcharge is $12. The execution fee is $30. The total is $82.
When you apply at one of the thousands of designated application acceptance facilities in the U.S., you pay the passport fee and the security surcharge to the U.S. Department of State and the execution fee to the facility where you are applying. Acceptable forms of payment vary.
The fees are non-refundable.
6. Social security number.
Failure to provide your Social Security Number could result in a $500 penalty imposed by the Internal Revenue Service.
If your passport was lost or stolen, you must also provide a completed Form DS-64: Statement Regarding Lost or Stolen Passport.
Gather the documents. Appear at the acceptance facility. Pay the fees. If everything goes well, your new passport should be processed and returned to you in about 6 weeks.