When to Apply for a Passport

There are several circumstances that require you to apply for a passport. Many adults and children need to fill out these requests in their lifetimes. Whether individuals are submitting passport renewal requests or are applying for the first time, there are certain scenarios that require them to obtain documentation.

If you need to apply at a US passport office or agency, there are specific instances when you will know you need to submit your document request. The sections below outline the four major scenarios that determine if you should file a passport application.

Submitting a Passport Application Before You Go Abroad

Domestic and national passport rules state that you need to have a valid passport before you go abroad. If you plan on leaving the country soon, you should apply for your document. If you are a new applicant, use Form DS-11 to submit your request. Furthermore, remember that certain countries have rules regarding how long your passport needs to have been valid before you can cross the borders. For example, U.S. citizens cannot enter Ecuador unless their passports were issued at least six months before they enter. This passport six month rule varies from country to country, so confirm this information with your destination’s government before you travel.


Apply for a Passport When You Run out of Pages

If you already have a passport book and travel frequently, you may find that your document has run out of passport pages. When this happens, know that you are unable to add pages to a passport. Instead, you must renew your passport book using Form DS-82. Even if your passport is still valid, you may not be able to travel abroad if you do not have enough pages. Some countries, like Argentina, only require you to have one available page when you enter. However, other countries, like Italy, require you to have two pages available. Know this before you travel and plan accordingly.

File a US Passport Application When Your Document Expires

You need to submit a passport renewal request when your document is set to expire. In many instances, you can file the DS-82 renewal application. If your passport was issued less than 15 years ago, you should be able to renew this document. This is true even if it is expired.

Apply for a Passport When Yours Is Lost or Damaged

You must submit a passport application if your current document was severely damaged. However, keep in mind that light wear, such as bending, does not mean the passport needs to be replaced. When applicable, though, you must use DS-11 to replace your passport in this instance. Likewise, you must apply for a passport again if your document is stolen or lost. However, these circumstances require you to use Form DS-64 to report your lost document and then apply for a replacement using DS-11.