Guide to U.S. Passport Requirements

Passport requirements are in place to help standardize the application process for all first-time requesters. When individuals are ready to go abroad, they are required to apply for a passport. When applicants are prepared to complete this task, most must report to a passport office location to apply. Upon arriving at this acceptance facility, individuals must show federal workers proof of certain information. Additionally, applicants need to provide supporting materials before the office can process their requests. Without fulfilling these tasks, individuals cannot receive their travel documents.

The passport documents you are responsible for bringing with you vary, depending on different factors. Generally, these criteria relate to how old the applicants are and what documents they need. The following sections explain what you should expect to bring when you file your US passport application at a federal facility. It is important that you understand these expectations beforehand. Otherwise, you may be unable to file your request in a single trip.

A Completed US Passport Application

In order to request a passport, you must formally submit a passport application. The specific form you need to use varies and is largely dependent upon whether you are a first-time applicant or not. It is important that you understand which document you need to use when you apply for a US passport. If you submit your request using a form you are ineligible to use, the government will likely deny your application.

Passport Application Form DS 11

If you have never requested a passport before, apply using the Form DS-11 Application for a U.S. Passport document. Blank versions of this document are available online via the State Department’s website. On this site, you have the ability to download a PDF of the US passport application. With this option, you must print the document, write out your responses and then bring the form to an office. Alternatively, you can type your answers into a fillable version of this application online. However, you must still print your completed form and bring it to a passport office facility afterward.

Furthermore, keep in mind that every applicant submitting a child passport application is required to use DS 11. This is true even if the applicant is under 16 years of age and has previously received a passport. Additionally, remember that all individuals who apply for a passport using DS-11 needs to file their requests at an official passport office. There is no option for submitting this application online or through the mail.

Passport Application Form DS 82

Adult applicants who already have a passport card or book may be eligible to renew their documents using Form DS 82. Officially, this document is called the U.S. Passport Renewal Application for Eligible Individuals. In fact, individuals who are at least 16 years of age may renew a passport through the mail using this method if they meet the following requirements:

  • The passports are still in the applicants’ possessions. Individuals who request a passport renewal using this document must have their passports. This is because applicants need to mail their current passports to the Department of State along with their renewal applications.
  • The passports are not damaged. Applicants may not request a US passport renewal if their documents are severely damaged.
  • Applicants received their passports as adults. Requesters may only renew their documents if their most recent passports were issued after they turned 16.
  • Requesters’ current passports were issued less than 15 years ago. Individuals may be eligible to renew their passports if they are expired. However, in order to use DS-82, the federal government must have issued their documents less than 15 years ago.
  • Individuals’ names have not changed. Renewal applicants must go by the same names that are printed on their current passports. However, individuals who were married or divorced can renew their documents if they have legal proof of their name changes.

Proof of Identity at the Passport Office

Additional documents required for a passport that applicants need to submit include proof of identity. This requirement only applies to first-time applicants, as renewal applicants do not need to provide ID proof with their applications. Furthermore, the identification that applicants use must be government-issued. Individuals who apply with DS-11 are responsible for bringing their original copy of these documents when they submit their requests. Additionally, applicants also need to bring photocopies of the front and back of identify documents to the passport office. Examples of documents that satisfy this requirement include:

  • Driver’s licenses, learner’s permits or non-driver identification cards.
  • Certificates of Naturalization or Citizenship.
  • Military or government employee identification documents.
  • Current passports that were issued by foreign governments.
  • U.S. Permanent Resident Cards.

Proof of Citizenship to Apply for a Passport

First-time applicants need to submit passport documents that prove they are U.S. citizens. Similar to the proof of identity requirement, individuals also must submit both an original and a photocopy of the front of this document. If there is information on the back of their proof of citizenship, they must also submit a copy of that side. Applicants must be sure to print their copies on standard-sized paper. In any case, documents that individuals can bring to prove they are U.S. citizens include:

  • U.S. birth certificates.
  • Consular Reports of Birth Abroad.
  • Naturalization or citizenship certificates.

Payment for US Passport Fees

When you apply for a US passport, you are responsible for paying all fees associated with your request. Furthermore, know that the amount you are required to pay varies based on how old you are and if you are filing a first-time or passport renewal application. Regardless of how you apply, however, keep in mind that you will likely need to pay using checks or money orders. U.S. passport acceptance facilities generally cannot accept debit or credit cards as payment. Additionally, remember that you can also pay more to have your passport expedited. This is a good option if you need your document in a short period of time.

US Passport Fees for First-Time Applicants

If you have never had a federal travel document before, you are responsible for paying for two services when you apply for a passport. First, you need to pay a $35 execution or acceptance fee at the passport office. Next, you must pay an associated application fee. This fee varies, depending on if you want a passport card or book and how old you are. For example, the following fees may apply:

  • Adult passport book: $110
  • Adult passport card: $30
  • Child passport book: $80
  • Child passport card: $15

US Passport Fees for Renewal Applicants

Only adult applicants can submit a US passport renewal request. Children may not renew their documents and must reapply using DS-11 when their documents expire. However, individuals who are older than 16 years of age may renew their passports using DS-82. Adults who wish to renew their passport books must pay $110. Alternatively, individuals who plan to renew their passport cards should expect to pay $30. However, renewal applicants should remember that they are not required to pay the acceptance fee again.

Submitting an Appropriate Passport Photo

Keep in mind that one of the documents needed for a passport application to be processed includes a recent photograph of you. This image will be used as the passport photo printed on your document, so it must meet the following passport photo requirements:

  • Recent. The image must be less than six months old.
  • Neutral expression. Both of your eyes must be open, and you may have a natural smile.
  • Glasses and headwear. You may not wear glasses or headwear in your photo, unless you can provide an official statement that explains why you cannot remove these items.
  • Facing the camera. You must face the camera directly.

Furthermore, applicants must remember that all passport photos must be printed on glossy or matte paper. Likewise, the subject must be seated in front of a neutral background. Additionally, the images need to be two inches by two inches in size.

Proof of Travel for a Passport Application

Sometimes, applicants may need to visit a US passport agency to apply for their federal identification documents. In most cases, individuals come to this location instead of a federal passport office because they need to have their US passport expedited. In fact, only candidates who need their passports within two weeks or their visas within four weeks can apply at these facilities.

One of the accompanying passport application documents that individuals applying at an agency need to bring is proof of travel. Since only applicants in urgent circumstances can apply for an expedited passport at agencies, they need to verify their plans. Examples of passport proof of travel that individuals can bring include:

  • Hotel reservations in a foreign country.
  • Cruise itineraries.
  • Flight information.
  • International automobile insurance.