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The Definitive U.S. Passport Application Guide for First Timers

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Brian Graham

Brian Graham

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A U.S. passport is your ticket to travel around the world. But you may not be familiar with what passports are, how they work, or how to get one if you haven’t traveled internationally or traveled to Canada or Mexico before passports were required.

Getting a U.S. passport for the first time can be quite easy and only takes a couple of hours of work and a quick photo of yourself. But you must know what’s necessary to complete and where to submit your paperwork.

If you need a passport renewal or have a special case like a name change or a lost passport, read the U.S. passport renewal and special cases guide.

In this guide, you will learn how to get a passport for the first time.

Hot Tip:

Passport Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for a U.S. passport, you must be either a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization or be a qualifying U.S. national.

Depending on which category you fall under, you must provide different evidence of your eligibility.

You’re a U.S. Citizen if One of the Following Apply:You’re a Qualifying National if One of the Following Apply:
You were born in the U.S.You were born in American Samoa
Your parent is a U.S. citizen*You were born in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island
You’re a former alien who has been naturalized as a U.S. citizen 
You were born in Puerto Rico 
You were born in Guam 
You were born in the U.S. Virgin Islands 

*See details of the Child Citizenship Act

If you are born abroad to parents who are U.S. citizens, your parents must fill out the CRBA form (DS-2029) and submit it to the nearest U.S. embassy in order to secure your citizenship.

This process is extremely important to prevent issues in obtaining citizenship. It is best to simultaneously apply for a passport so there are no issues getting back into the U.S.

The U.S. Passport Application Process

Applying for a U.S. passport is not difficult. To apply for a U.S. passport, you’ll need to complete the following steps:

Step 1: Fill Out the Official Application

The official application for a U.S. passport is the U.S. Department of State form DS-11. It’s quite easy to fill out.

The top half of the Application for a U.S. Passport form DS-11. You must fill this in on paper or online and print it and bring it in to be processed. Image Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

When completing the passport form, pay close attention to the different fields and do not make handwritten adjustments to the form after printing (with the exception of your signature).

You have a few options to select when applying for a passport document:

Type of DocumentTravel UsageProsCons
28-Page Passport BookAll available countries*Standard-sized passportMay not be large enough for frequent travelers
52-Page Passport BookAll available countries*Extra pages to fit more visa stamps for frequent travelersLarger, more cumbersome size
Passport CardCanada, Mexico, the Caribbean, BermudaCheaper, size of a credit card, easy access to these specific countriesCannot be used to travel to the rest of the world

*Travel with a passport is restricted by visa requirements of the countries you are traveling to.

The passport book is a little more expensive, but there aren’t any restrictions. However, the card is very convenient when traveling to those select countries.

The passport book comes with either the standard 28 pages or the extended 52 pages. If you plan to travel a lot, get the 52-page passport, as the price is the same.

The 28-page passport is plenty for most people, given you’ll likely need to renew before filling it up. However, if you need more pages, the U.S. government will send you a new passport versus adding pages to your current one.

To get a copy of the required application form, you can print it from home or locally. You can also pick up the application where you will submit your application.

If you plan to pick up the application and submit it all in 1 trip, ensure you have completed all the other steps first.

Step 2: Proof of Citizenship or Naturalization

You must wave your U.S. flags with a birth certificate, certification of naturalization, or some other proof that you can be considered a citizen or national. Image Credit: Gazlast via Shutterstock

While there are minimum passport requirements stated, sometimes they may ask you for more than 1 piece of information to prove your citizenship.

It’s better to be prepared, so try to bring as much information as possible!

Here is where knowing your eligibility status is important. Different evidence is required for those (1) born in the U.S. (citizens), (2) born outside the U.S. (citizens), (3) born outside the U.S. (naturalized), and (4) born outside the U.S. (adopted).

For U.S. citizens born in the U.S. or U.S. nationals, you simply need to submit a certified birth certificate.

Make sure it is not a copy of your birth certificate. If your certificate was not filed for over a year after your birth, or you do not have one, you must also submit a combination of the following:

  • A hospital birth record
  • An early baptismal or circumcision certificate
  • Early census, school, medical, or family bible records
  • Insurance files or published birth announcements (such as a newspaper article)
  • Notarized affidavits or DS-10 (birth affidavit) of older blood relatives having knowledge of your birth in addition to some of the above

All the evidence must be official and signed with all the appropriate information about you.

For U.S. citizens born outside the U.S., you will need to submit the following:

  • Your foreign birth certificate listing your parent(s)
  • Your parent(s)’ evidence of U.S. citizenship
  • Your parents’ marriage certificate, if applicable
  • A statement from your U.S. citizen parent(s) detailing all periods and places of their residence or physical presence in the U.S. and abroad (even before your birth)

For those born outside the U.S. and naturalized, submit your Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship.

For those born outside the U.S. and who claim citizenship through the naturalization of their parents, you must submit a few things:

  • Your foreign birth certificate listing your parent(s)
  • Your parent(s)’ naturalization certificate
  • Evidence of your permanent residence status. Examples include:
    • Permanent Resident Card/Green Card
    • Foreign passport with the original I-551 visa entry stamp
  • Your parents’ marriage certificate (if your parents were married when you legally entered the U.S. and before your 18th birthday)
  • Documentation of legal custody (if your parents were not married when you legally entered the U.S.)
  • Evidence of your legitimation (if your parents were not married at the time of your birth). Examples include:
    • Your parents’ marriage certificate dated after your birth
    • Certified court order of legitimation

For those born outside the U.S. and adopted while under the age of 16, you will need to provide the following document:

  • Evidence of your permanent residence status
  • Evidence of your full and final adoption
  • Evidence that you were in the legal and physical custody of your U.S. citizen parent(s)
  • Evidence you have resided in the U.S.

For more information, refer to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

While this may seem like a lot, make sure to bring any other official documentation that you feel might be relevant, whether you are a U.S. citizen born in the U.S. or abroad.

The U.S. Department of State website lists the accepted secondary evidence. Note: Social Security cards are not considered evidence.

Step 3: Submit Identification

The proof of identification is a bit easier and less daunting than the proof of citizenship. The proof of identity must have a good photo of you with your signature.

It has to be a permanent form of identification (not a temporary card) and an official U.S. government-issued form of identification. Examples include:

  • Permanent driver’s license
  • Military identification
  • Expired passport book/card
  • Certificate of naturalization or citizenship

Step 4: Submit Photocopied Evidence

While you will need to have all official documentation when you submit your application, you will also need photocopies of each document so there is a copy of your documentation submitted with your application.

Before you submit your application, photocopy all primary and secondary evidence you will bring in. Then you can provide whatever they ask for. Make copies of each piece of evidence separately.

The photocopies must be of the front and back of each piece of evidence, on 8.5 x 11-inch white paper, printed in black and white, and on 1 side of the paper.

Finally, you must not reduce the size of any images copied, but you can enlarge them if you choose.

Step 5: Provide a Picture: Passport Photo Requirements

While this photo is cute, it wouldn’t be eligible for the passport photo. You can’t see his face! Image Credit: YuryImaging via Shutterstock

Perhaps the one thing that is most overlooked is the passport photo. While some facilities provide photo-taking services, it is easiest to do this ahead of time.

Per application requirements, you only need to provide 1 photo. The photo has to be a high-quality color photo of you, taken within the last 6 months, taken in front of a white or off-white background, and be 2 x 2 inches in size.

You will need to wear regular street clothes and not wear any headdress or glasses unless worn for religious reasons and documented as such.

Since more passport photo requirements exist, it is easiest to simply get the photo taken at a facility that provides a passport photo service. Typical places to take these include big pharmacies, department stores, government offices, and more. If you’d prefer to do it yourself, follow these guidelines for taking your passport photo at home.

The photos cost around $6 to $20 and are in addition to your passport application fee. Bring the photos to the application facility, but they don’t have to be attached to the application.

Step 6: Pay the Passport Application Fee

The U.S. passport fees are stated on the U.S. Department of State website.

Please note that these fees are in addition to the cost of the photos and any additional fees in getting the proper evidence together.

Applying For:Application FeeExecution Fee
Passport Book$130$35
Passport Card$30$35
Passport Book + Card$160$35
Adult Passport Card (if you already possess a Book)$30No charge

Depending on where you submit your application, you can pay the passport fee with cash, check, or credit card. You can even use money orders.

Make checks or money orders payable to the “U.S. Department of State” and ensure you have the exact amount if you want to pay with cash.

If you want to expedite your passport, you can do so for an additional $60 fee. An overnight delivery service can be obtained for $19.53, which will overnight your passport from the date it is approved.

Hot Tip:

For more information on expedited passports, visit our Expedited U.S. Passport Application Guide.

Where To Apply for Your Passport

Many places can process passport applications. The U.S. Department of State website has the full list of qualified places. There is likely a passport office somewhere near you.

You must apply in person for your first U.S. passport application, hence why the above information is so important.

If your application is not urgent, it is easiest to apply at a general Passport Acceptance Facility. The wizard at that link can search for places near you, including places that also offer photo services.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) offices also allow you to submit applications. Click the link to search around for the office nearest you.

For those traveling within 2 weeks or who need a foreign visa within 4 weeks, then you’ll need to visit a passport agency. These are, unfortunately, few and far between and may be nowhere near where you’re located. You’ll also have to time the appointment right, as your appointment must be within 14 days of the expected travel.

26 U.S. Passport Agency Locations

If you can’t make it to a passport agency and still need it expedited or just wish to have someone else help you expedite the process, you can also use a private passport expediter like Swift Passport and Visa Services.

There is a great article explaining how to use a private passport expediter. Please note that using such a service should be done with caution.

Expected Time of Delivery

Your passport delivery time can vary widely. But expect it to take at least 3 weeks if you got it in standard delivery. It can take up to a month or 2, depending on how backed up they are. Image Credit: Iakov Filimonov via Shutterstock

The time it takes to receive your passport depends on whether or not you expedite it, where you submit it, and what the workload is currently at the passport offices.

The standard processing time is approximately 10 to 13 weeks. An expedited order is supposed to arrive within 7 to 9 weeks, but could also take longer.

If you enter a passport agency, the expected turnaround time is 3 days. However, international travel must be booked within 72 hours of your appointment.

Be sure to check your online passport status occasionally if you don’t need it immediately. You’ll look up your application using your last name, date of birth, and the last 4 digits of your Social Security number.

If you’re getting your passport expedited, the online status tool likely won’t work for at least a week.

Sometimes there is nothing you can do to further expedite it. As a government process, you can expect it to take a little longer than normal and have minimal customer service. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you apply for your passport well in advance of any upcoming trip!

Hot Tip:

The U.S. Department of State’s application wizard is a useful tool to get you through the passport application process. It’s not an official application, but it will help you figure out what you need.

Special Case (Minors, Outside the U.S.) Passport Applications

There are a few special cases for first-time passport applications: minors under the age of 16, minors ages 16 or 17, and people applying from outside the U.S.

You can get your kids passports. You’ll have to go with them and fill out the paperwork, as well as vouch for them as parents. Then, their passports will be good for 5 years. Image Credit: michaeljung via Shutterstock

Passport Processing for Minors Under 16

If you’re under 16 years of age or submitting an application for a minor under the age of 16, there are additional pieces of evidence that must be submitted with the application. The application must also be done in person.

When submitting the DS-11 application for a minor under 16, you must submit proof of citizenship along with a parent’s proof of relationship. At least 1 parent must also provide identifying documentation at the acceptance center.

The parental relationship can be documented on the child’s birth certificate, which can double as the proof of citizenship. Photo identification can be covered with the parent’s or the child’s ID (if they have one).

Parental consent must be given to those under the age of 16 and they cannot apply alone. Both parents or guardians must be present and consent, if available. If a parent can’t be present, the other must bring an affidavit granting permission to give the child a passport. If there is only 1 guardian, then proof can be provided by presenting a proper court order or death certificate.

The passport fee for a minor is slightly lower at $100 for a book, $15 for a card, and $115 for both, in addition to the standard $35 processing fee. Note that the passport will only be good for 5 years instead of the standard 10.

Hot Tip:

For even more information, check out our detailed guide: How to Get a U.S. Passport for Your Baby [Step-by-Step].

Passport Processing for Minors Ages 16 and 17

Although still considered a minor, a 16-year-old or 17-year-old child may apply for a passport on their own, as long as they have the appropriate documentation, including their own ID.

The child must present a completed DS-11 application or renew online with DS-82. If the child does not yet have their own identification, then a parent must be present with ID to identify them. Both parents do not need to be present if the child is 16 or 17.

It is suggested that at least 1 parent is present to show parental awareness. Another way to show parental awareness is to provide a signed written consent letter for the child with a copy of the parent’s photo ID.

Standard adult fees apply for a child of age 16 or 17. Passports for applicants 16 and older are valid for 10 years.

Please note that a child may be denied the ability to obtain a passport if one of the parents has submitted a letter stating they object to the child receiving a passport.

Passport Application Process for a U.S. Citizen or U.S. National Located Outside the U.S.

If you are trying to apply for a U.S. passport, and you are located outside of the U.S. and are a U.S. citizen or national, the process is very similar to applying from within the U.S. However, you must apply through the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Similar to the process above, you’ll need to complete the DS-11 application and collect all relevant documentation to bring with you. Passport photos have different requirements depending on which country you are located in, so be sure to follow the U.S. passport photo requirements.

The passport fees are the same, but you must use cash in either U.S. dollars or the local currency that will be converted. You cannot use any other forms of payment.

You cannot apply for an expedited passport from outside the U.S. However, the embassy or agency can issue a limited-validity passport to service your emergency if you are applying for a passport.

Post-passport Duties: Getting Your Visa Lined Up

Congratulations! You’ve got your passport. The next step is to understand how it works, and that enters into the world of visas (not to be confused with the credit card processor of the same name).

Because visas are a complicated world, see our article on the 4 basic types of travel visas.

Final Thoughts

From filling out the application, providing proof of citizenship, getting a photo, and submitting the application, there are many small steps to getting your passport.

If you’re interested in renewing your passport and other special cases in passports, such as a name change, check out the second part of this article: Passport Renewal and Special Cases Guide.

And congratulations! You’ve completed the first step in getting the maximum value out of your travel rewards cards’ points. There are some other things to consider before you get going. Here are some helpful links:

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Frequently Asked Questions

You can apply for a U.S. passport if you are a U.S. citizen (born or naturalized) or U.S. national. Passport requirements differ whether you live in or outside the U.S. and how you obtained your citizenship.

Yes, however, you must apply in person as credit cards are only accepted at passport agencies, not via mail.

The passport card only allows land or sea entry travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. It is wallet-sized (the same as other standard ID cards) rather than the book size of 5 x 3.5 inches. The passport card only costs $30 versus the $130 of a passport book ($15 and $100, respectively, for minors). You can apply for both at the same time.

You can get your passport photos taken at the majority of large pharmacies and department stores. Certain government offices and other private places may also provide services, as long as they provide the correct photo requirements.

  • Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid
  • Walmart and Target
  • FedEx and UPS
  • Photography studios

The photo requirements are detailed online. It must be color, 2 x 2 inches, sized so that the head is 1 to 1 3/8 inches from chin to the top of the head, taken in the last 6 months, taken in front of a white background, taken with a full-face view, and with a neutral or natural smile with both eyes open. The website above also provides additional information if you want to take your own, such as the required resolution and a tool to make your own.

U.S. passport application locations include official passport offices, agencies, and also other government agencies that can accept the application like the county clerk or USPS. For your first time getting a passport, you must go to one of these places in person. If you really need it expedited, you can use a passport agency or a private passport expediter.

Simply gather all the required paperwork above and go to the office and ask for the application, or fill it out beforehand and submit it.

To get an expedited passport, you must either pay the expedite fee of $60 at the time of your application, go to a passport agency, or pay for a private expediting company (prices vary). The expedite fee will reduce the 10 to 13 weeks to 7 to 9 weeks. The passport agency can do it in approximately 3 days, but you need evidence of immediate international travel to get an appointment. Time will vary based on backorders and the general time of year.

The passport application for minors (under 16) is very similar to the normal process. You must go to one of the acceptance facilities and complete the paperwork. However, the difference is that you, as the parent, will provide much of your own personal information to prove your relationship with the child. Bring proof of citizenship and identification for you, the child, and both parents. Both parents should attend. If both parents aren’t available, then one needs to come with the approval of the other in the form of an affidavit or proof that the parent has single custody. See the advanced renewal and special cases passport guide for other information.

You can’t get your first passport online. All first-time passport applications must be done in person at a passport facility.

With standard delivery and processing times, passports take 10 to 13 weeks, depending on the time of year and current backload. The expedited fee can reduce the time to 7 to 9 weeks. Using a passport agency can take up to 3 days.

The current U.S. passport application fee is $130 for the passport book and $30 for the passport card. Both carry a $35 execution fee, though you can get them both simultaneously and only pay the $35 fee once. A minor’s passport will only cost $100 for the book and $15 for the card. You will also need to pay the $35 execution fee on top of this.

The U.S. passport application form is DS-11.

Your U.S. passport application status can be found online using the passport tracking tool on the U.S. Department of State website.

Along with your form DS-11, you need to have proof of citizenship, proof of identification, photocopies of each of the proofs (individually, front and back), and a passport photo. If you cannot prove your citizenship or identification primarily, you will have to use a secondary proof of citizenship or identification.

You cannot expedite your application outside the U.S. unless you are in a state of emergency. See your local U.S. embassy or consulate for details.

Depending on the U.S. embassy or consulate, you can either get it hand delivered, through the standard mail service, or pick it up in person.

About Brian Graham

Brian’s first ever airplane ride was in a private turbo-prop jet. He was merely an intern boy trying to make a good impression, but it turns out the plane made an impression on him.

It wasn’t until Brian relocated to Dallas, TX, and moved in with an American Airlines employee that he truly discovered how incredible travel could be.


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May 03, 2018

This was very informative. Thank you!

Connie surface

January 06, 2019

Do you have to put the city and/or state your parents were born? I don’t know this info.

Christine Krzyszton

January 06, 2019

Hi Connie. The passport application does ask for “place of birth” of your parents and whether they are U.S. citizens. If you do not know the exact city and state, you could try putting in the country and then check the appropriate box if they are U.S. citizens.


September 10, 2019

Hi, I have a question. I’m trying to get a passport so I can just travel through Canada to get to Alaska. I do not talk to my mother. I refuse to. I don’t know where she was born. I just know it was in the U.S. Do I really have to have that information.? I’m 24.

Christine Krzyszton

September 11, 2019

Hi Tabatha. You will just have to answer the questions to the best of your knowledge. You could put in “Unknown City”, then U.S. for birth place and that would be truthful.


May 31, 2021

That’s what I’m trying to find out. 🤔

Heather C

January 27, 2019

I need to attach an additional page for other names I have used due to marriage. Is a legal sheet acceptable or do I attach another page 1 of the application?

Erin Miller

February 18, 2019

Hi Heather, apologies for the tardy reply. Unfortunately, we were not able to come up with a definitive answer in our research. We suggest you contact the official agency that handles applications – the U.S. Department of State. The phone number for questions pertaining to passports is: 1-877-487-2778. The website states a customer service rep is available at this line Mon-Fri 8am-10pm EST & Sat 10am-3pm EST.

Chris Miller

February 18, 2019

Hi I am trying to determine how to input my mother’s name? She changed her whole name, first, middle, and last. Do I need to enter it as it is shown on my birth certificate?

James Larounis

February 20, 2019

Hi Chris,

I would definitely enter the name as written on official documentation, such as a birth certificate. If she has any other federal or state identification, this should match as well. You mention she changed her name, so if that is different than a birth certificate, I would use the new legal name that is on any legal paperwork proving the name change.

Barbara Bahoura

March 07, 2019

Should I answer married before if my marriage was annulled? Or use never been married as an answer? Thanks

Katie Seemann

March 08, 2019

Hi Barbara,
That would be a question for the passport office. I am not sure what the requirement is for your situation. Good luck!

Lester Good

April 29, 2019

When putting in information for my spouse for place of birth, her birth certificate only has the county she was born in, not the city. What do i put for that question?

Christy Rodriguez

April 29, 2019

Hi Lester! First, I would make sure she has a certified “long form” birth certificate. These typically have more information and may contain the city she was born in. If she’s not sure if she has a certified copy, she can choose to contact the county’s vital records office to see if she can obtain one.

Ultimately, if she does have a certified birth certificate and it doesn’t contain the city, I would suggest filling out the form with the county in the place of the city.

John Noss

June 18, 2019

Hello. When I was filling out my DS-11, I realized there is some information I don’t know about my parents and unfortunately, they both have passed away. Does the portion of the application pertaining to birth date and place of birth for my parents have to be filled out in full for the application to be accepted? Thank you or your help!

Christy Rodriguez

June 18, 2019

Hi Lester, from past experience, I would suggest following the online application process. There’s a lot of information (including parent’s birth date/place) that is not marked as mandatory online, unlike the paper form.

If that doesn’t work, we suggest you contact the official agency that handles applications – the U.S. Department of State. The phone number for questions pertaining to passports is: 1-877-487-2778. The website states a customer service rep is available at this line Mon-Fri 8am-10pm EST & Sat 10am-3pm EST.

Thanks for reading!

Adam L Kane

June 29, 2019


Under the parents section, I have entered my mother’s information. My birth father passed away when I was very young, but my mom remarried and her husband officially adopted me shortly a few years later. Which father do I enter information for?

Christy Rodriguez

June 29, 2019

Hi Adam! I would suggest using your step father’s name in the passport application.

Some things to be aware of – you will have to provide your original birth certificate when you apply for your passport. You will also have to provide any adoption decrees and, if you changed your last name when you were adopted, provide your old last name as “other names” on the application.

If you’d like to be 100% certain though, we always recommend calling the passport office directly to confirm at 1-877-487-2778.

Thanks for reading!


October 15, 2019

My wife will be applying for a passport for the 1st time. She has changed her surname twice due to remarriage. Does she need to furnish both marriage licenses along with her drivers license to prove her ID?

Christy Rodriguez

October 15, 2019

Hi Ronn! From our unofficial perspective, we always recommend providing any information that might be necessary to avoid any delays in processing. If she has this information, it would be best to provide it. In short, she will need to follow the trail of last names from birth certificate to current last name.

We suggest directly contacting the official agency that handles applications to be positive – the U.S. Department of State. The phone number for questions pertaining to passports is: 1-877-487-2778. The website states a customer service rep is available at this line Mon-Fri 8am-10pm EST & Sat 10am-3pm EST.

Roberta Hayes

November 12, 2019

On line 9 of the DS 82 where it asks for other names used (maiden and other marriage), can you just put the different last names or do you have to include your first name also?

Christine Krzyszton

November 13, 2019

Hi Roberta. You should include full names, first, middle, and last.

Netta Friedman

January 16, 2020

I need to apply for my first passport and was wondering if I need to give both my parents info even though my father passed away.
I’m 40 y.o.
Also, I just passed my citizenship interview and scheduled to take the oath on 2/14, can I complete the application before I get the citizenship certificate?



Christy Rodriguez

January 16, 2020

Hi Netta, while we are not associated with the US State Department (who issues passports), we always recommend providing as much information as possible. If you know the information about your father, we would recommend including it.

In addition, you must provide evidence of citizenship when submitting your application according to the State Department. You will need to go in person to apply for a passport since it would be your first U.S. passport, so we would recommend just going once after you have all of the information you need to minimize your time and effort since your application would just be pending until all information is submitted anyways.

Hope this helps!

Marlenda Clark

February 17, 2020

In the parent’s section, the application has it listed as “Mother/Father/Parent of Applicant”. Does the information need to be what appears on the individual’s birth certificate as opposed to a step-parent?

Thank you!

Jarrod West

February 20, 2020

Hi Marlenda,

You should include what appears on the individual’s birth certificate unless you have legally adopted the child.

Jessica Burns

March 01, 2020

For the parent part of the application, my father’s name is not on my birth certificate. Do I still need to put him down on the application or not due to him not being on the certificate?

Christy Rodriguez

March 02, 2020

Hi Jessica, we usually recommend including as much information as possible. If you know your father’s name, I would go ahead and include it. If not, you can just leave the area blank. Hope this helps!

Howard J krieger

March 09, 2020

How long are renewals taking?

Christy Rodriguez

March 09, 2020

Hi Howard, per the State Department’s website, standard renewals are taking 6-8 weeks, expedited renewals are taking 2-3 weeks, and at an agency or center, they are taking 8 days. Thanks for reading!

gregory A Wilson

April 29, 2020

Do I have to know where I’m going before I apply for a passport?

Jarrod West

April 30, 2020

Hi Gregory,

No, you do not have to have any trips planned in order to apply for a passport.


June 25, 2020

Hey Brian, I saw you updated this text on June 6th, 2020. But I just don’t get it: you didn’t mention anything about the changes due the coronavirus pandemic.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, they significantly reduced passport operations in March 2020. They temporarily suspended expedited passport processing and restricted service to cases involving life-or-death emergencies. As global conditions evolve and U.S. states begin to reopen, they are resuming operations in phases.

As of Friday, June 19, a total of 15 passport agencies and centers are in phase one of our three-phase reopening plan. During phase one, THEY ARE LIMITING appointments to customers who must travel internationally in the next 72 hours due to a life-or-death emergency.

We can apply at an acceptance facility or renew by mail now, BUT unless we have a life-or-death emergency, we will experience delays of many months before receiving the passport and the return of the citizenship documents such as previous passports, and birth and naturalization certificates.


July 31, 2020

Hi. My wife and I applied at the USPS for passports on March 26th, 2020 and we still haven’t received them. We checked with the postmaster and he told us that they do have a record that the US State Dept did receive the shipment. The US State Dept told us that they do not have a record in their system. If we sent them one check for both of us would that have been flagged and could that be the delay or is it due to the current situation with the COVID virus and them being short-staffed?

Christy Rodriguez

July 31, 2020

Hi Kevin, you are correct – starting in March 2020 due to COVID, passports were only being issued based on “life or death” cases. It is likely that they just haven’t been processed due to this. Offices are gradually reopening now and you can get the most current updates here.

Hope they both arrive soon!


October 02, 2020

So now that everything is reopening should we expect normal processing time for passports?

Christy Rodriguez

October 02, 2020

Hi Elizabeth, per the US State Department website, routine passport processing is taking 10-12 weeks and expedited processing is at 4-6 weeks. This is longer than “normal” and we assume that this is because passport processing centers may still be experiencing some backlog due to being closed for almost 6 months. Thanks for reading!

Bernie B

February 01, 2021

I had a passport over 20 years ago. I don’t know where it is. How do I answer line 21 on the form for passport number and date of issue if the old passport is lost and that information is not available?

Jarrod West

February 02, 2021

Hi Bernie,

Are you filling out an application to renew your lost passport? Or are you filling out an application for a new one? Either way, you shouldn’t be needing to provide a passport number. I would contact the toll-free at 1-877-487-2778 to get the matter sorted out.


May 31, 2021

I am an adult applying for a 1st time passport…do I have to include my parent’s information or is that for a minor child’s application?!?! 🤔

Jarrod West

June 01, 2021

Hi LaSandra,

No, you should not have to include your parents information.


March 11, 2023

We applied in person at the local library, they mailed it in, checks were cashed 2/14/2023, status shows in process as of 3/4/2023, we paid the expedited fee of an extra $60 each, we are due to travel April 17th 2023. What or when do I need to make a trip to Detroit if passports have not arrived by??

Christine Krzyszton

March 11, 2023

Hi Michelle. You can make an appointment at the passport agency when your travel is within 3 – 10 days of your expected departure date.


May 11, 2023

My birth mother died when I was 3yo. My father remarried when I was 6 and this woman has been my mother ever since. Whose information do I include in the parent information section, birth mother or bonus mom?

Jarrod West

May 11, 2023

Hi Krys,

You should include whomever is your legal parents, so if that is still your birth mother you’ll want to include her on the application.

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