How Do You Get a Passport?

How Do You Get a Passport?

A passport is an easily recognized travel document authorizing travel and identifying you. You need a passport to enter and return to the US from most countries. Get a US passport through the government, not commercial passport application agencies, even if rushing a US passport application.

Get a Passport Wallet

Prepare to pay a little bit — the US passport fee is $100 if you are over 18 (good for ten years) and $85 if you are 17 or under. The “youth passport” is only good for five years.

In order to get your passport, you’ll need to gather a few documents. First, print out the forms you need (as provided by the government) for a US passport to start the actual application process. Look for a passport application at any US post office or download the passport application forms from the federal website..

After you follow the instructions on the first two pages, you’ll fill out page three in black print on white paper which is 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches, with no holes or perforations, at least medium (20 lb.) weight, and with a matte surface.” Pretty specific demands for a form, so I suggest you follow them.

Along with your forms, you need to have proof of U.S. citizenship. What’s that? You need to bring one out of the following list, this according to the US Department of State:

  • A certified U.S. birth certificate issued by the city, county or state (not a copy)
  • Records of birth abroad
  • Naturalization certificate
  • or Certificate of citizenship

You’ll also need one from the following list to prove your identity

  • Previous US passport (altered or damaged passports won’t work)
  • Naturalization certificate
  • Certificate of citizenship
  • Current, valid Driver’s license
  • Current, valid Government ID, city, state or federal
  • Current, valid Military ID for military and dependents

How to Get a Passport

Now you’ve got your forms and two pieces of ID. What’s next? It is always a good idea to have your social security card or (at least) have your SSN memorized.

You will also need to have two photos taken. Please do not dress up for this photo — wear your civilian clothes and make sure there’s nothing covering your head. Pictures with any part of the face or head covered are not valid. Basically, you want to look like yourself in these pictures. Wear your glasses, look normal, don’t “dress up”. You can have your US passport photos taken at any post office. They do it all the time and are very aware of the photo requirements, so this is a good place to go if you’re afraid of taking an inappropriate photo.

Once you’ve got two forms of ID, your SSN, and two photos, scrape up some cash. There are application and execution fees that go into the price of a passport. These fees change a lot over time — at the time of this writing, the cost for adults is a total of $100.

To find the passport office location nearest you, check out the US Department of State at They have a handy “find a passport office” tool.

Just give the passport office your planned departure date and they’ll tell you when you’ll get your new passport. If you need it faster, you can spend an extra $60 to have your new passport sent via overnight mail.

Renewing passports is a process that follows the same steps and requirements of getting new passports.

For more information, see How to Get a Passport. It’s a great resource. And you can get a passport wallet here.