Around the United States, a lot of Post Offices provide products and services for both renewal and first-time passport applications. In 2015, the United States Travel Association stated that U.S. residents recorded 1.7 billion trips for vacation purposes and global travel spending. As a U.S. citizen, traveling internationally will require you to possess a valid passport as a form of identification.
Therefore, if you don’t own a passport card, you might want to consider applying for one. An existing passport, on the other hand, needs to be renewed for it to be a valid proof of identity. Below are the steps to follow to apply for a U.S. passport.
#1: Filling out Form DS-11
Form DS-11 refers to the application that must be submitted by U.S. citizens for obtaining several requirements. These include a first-time passport, replacing a lost passport, replacement of a damaged or stolen passport. Others include the renewal of a passport that has been expired for over five years and renewal of passport given to a minor of age fifteen or younger.
The person filling out the DS-11 form will then choose the correct form for them based on the information that they input. The form may generate a different form from what the form-filler may expect. The application form should be completed but not signed unless instructed to do so by the receiving agent.
In conformity with 22 C.F.R. 51.60(f) and 22 U.S. C 2714a, the form-filler must provide their Social Security number, if they have been issued with one. If the filler doesn’t have it, they must submit a statement that has been duly signed and dated. They vow that the Social Security Administration has never issued them with the number.
The filler then declares under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the vow made above is true and correct. At no extra charge, the filler may request a larger passport book with 52 pages at the top of the form.
#2: Provision of U.S. Citizenship Evidence
The passport form filler must submit evidence proving their United States citizenship. The evidence provided must be an original or certified copy. A certified copy refers to any document that has the stamp or seal of the official issuing authority.
The evidence can be in the form of a fully-valid U.S. passport that is undamaged. It doesn't matter if it is expired, that will still work. Another document is a U.S. birth certificate that is consistent with several requirements. The birth certificate must be issued by the city, county, or state of the filler's birth. Also, it must list their full name, date, and place of birth, accompanied by their parent(s)' full names.
The birth certificate must also have the date filed with the registrar’s office within one year of birth, registrar’s signature and the seal of issuing authority. If a child is born abroad, there must be a certification of birth or Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA). A consular officer will approve the CRBA application; then, the D.S. will issue Form FS-240, proving that the child is a U.S. citizen.
Other documents of evidence include a Certificate of Citizenship and a Certificate of Naturalization. If the passport applicant can’t submit one of the mentioned (primary) acceptable documents, then they must provide secondary evidence of American citizenship.
#3: A Photocopy of the Evidence
The United States Department of State requires the passport applicant to give a submission of a copy of the front of the U.S. Citizenship evidence they are providing to the consular. If the evidence has printed information on the back, they must submit it as well.
The issued photocopies must be black and white, legible, and on white 8.5”x11” standard paper. Also, they must be single-sided.
If the passport applicant does not want to submit a photocopy of their citizenship evidence, they may provide a second copy of the same that has been certified. However, it will be reserved by the United States Department of State consular office.
It is worth noting that a few factors can delay the processing of the passport. The factors include refusing to submit a photocopy of your citizenship evidence or a second certification of the same.
# 4: Submit an I.D.
The acceptance agent requires the applicant to present one of the listed identification documents (I.D.s), which must identify them. They include an undamaged, valid or that has expired United States passport, a Certificate of Naturalization or a Certificate of Citizenship. Also, an in a state, a driving license that is fully valid or driver's license that has been enhanced with a photo would work.
Other I.D.s include a government employee I.D., military dependent or U.S. military I.D., or a current valid foreign passport. For a parent of a U.S. citizen child applicant, there's an option of the U.S. Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) or the Mexican Consular ID (Matricula Consular).
Applicants can also present a Trusted Traveler ID, including valid NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST and Global Entry cards, or enhanced Tribal Cards and Native American ethnic photo I.D.s. Other documents are in-state, fully valid non-driver I.D. and fully valid learner's permit both with photos as well as temporary driver's license with photo. However, you may be required to issue an extra I.D. when presenting one of the last three documents.
Some U.S. states now issue mobile I.D.s or mobile driver's licenses (digital I.D.s). These cannot be accepted when applying for a U.S. passport. The consular requires physical documents for application. Holders of out-of-state I.D.s must issue an extra I.D.
#5: An I.D. Photocopy
The passport applicant will be required to submit a photocopy of the front of each I.D. that they will present for application purposes. These photocopies must be on a white 8.5”x11” standard paper, legible, single-sided, and in black and white.
#6: Determine Any Special Situations
In case there are some exceptional circumstances in your application process, the agency may require additional documents. Below are categories:
Children Under 16
These applicants must apply in person using Form DS-11 and are valid for five years only. After filling the form, they must provide their citizenship evidence and photocopies of the same.
Also, there must be a document listing the legal guardian(s) or parent(s) of the child applying for the passport. They include foreign birth certificate, adoption decree, custody/divorce decree, a United States birth certificate, or CRBA.
Children Ages 16 and 17
This category follows a similar process (above) but involves parental awareness in the form of physical appearance during the process and signing the DS-11 form. Also, the agency requires a signed, certified statement consenting to the passport issuance from at least one parent/guardian.
Sex Marker Change
US Passports are valid for different time lengths. This is dependent on whether you have finalized your change or are still in its process. Unless you’re replacing a restricted-validity passport in your new sex within two years of its issuance date, you must use Form DS-11.
You require an I.D. and passport photo resembling your present appearance, and a medical certification indicating you received appropriate treatment for the transition. Also, you must provide evidence of authorized name change, if applicable.
Your medical certification should bear the physician's full names, telephone number and address, certificate number or medical certificate, and the issuing state. A comprehensive evaluation report of the transition must also be provided. These requirements apply to both minors and adults.
Child Support Payments
If you are indebted to child support with $2,500 or more, you're ineligible for a U.S. passport. If you’ve started the application process, first pay these arrears to the concerned authorities, then the H.H.S. will be notified by the state agency to clear your name (2-3 weeks). After this, normal processes will resume.
Report on a Lost or Stolen Passport
To defend yourself from identity theft, immediately report that your physical U.S. passport was lost or stolen. Replacement can be done later or instantly. Here are your reporting options: online, via mail, or the phone.
#7: A Passport Photo
A passport applicant must submit one photo with their application. Meeting the requirements of the picture will help avoid processing delays. The United States Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ photo policies apply to both children (under age 16), and adults. However, infants are entitled to a few exceptions to the Bureau's plans.
The photos submitted must be colored, taken in the last six months with a clear image of the applicant’s face (no filters). You shouldn't send selfies, instead have somebody take your photo. Also, you shouldn’t have your eyeglasses on and always use a plain white/off-white background.
Quality, Resolution and Print Size
Submit a high-resolution photo with the correct size (2” x 2”), with the head between 1” -1 3/8” from the chin’s bottom to the head’s top. Print the photo on matte/glossy photo quality paper with zero digital changes, and no damages.
Posture and Appearance
You should have a natural smile or neutral facial appearance, with both eyes open, and look at the camera directly with a full-face view.
Unless for medical reasons (include a signed statement from your physician with application), don’t wear your glasses. Take the photo in attire worn daily, and don't wear a head covering or a hat. If you must wear them for both religious and medical reasons, including a signed statement verifying the same.
Also, don't wear wireless hands-free devices or headphones. Jewelry and facial piercings are allowed, but shouldn't hide your face. Permanent tattoos are also acceptable.
#8: Fees Calculation
Application fees between children (age 15 and younger) and adults (age 16 and older) applicants differ. However, the acceptance (execution) fees are similar.
A similar form (DS-11) is used in both the passport card and passport book with an application fee of $15 and $80, respectively, totaling up to $95. The acceptance fee for the passport book and passport card is $35 each.
DS-11 form is used in the application of both the passport book and passport card, with an application fee of $110 and $30, respectively. This totals up to $140. The execution fee for the passport card and passport book is $35 each.
Please note that the application and the execution fees are paid separately.
The listed application and execution fees apply for application and renewal in the U.S. and renewal by mail from Canada. Those willing to renew or apply for passports in foreign countries can visit the consulate website in their country of residence.
Payment methods for applications and extra services at passport acceptance facilities can be made via checks and money orders billed to the U.S. Department of State. Execution fees are via money orders as instructed by the facility in all locations, and personal checks in some regions.
Application by mail for renewal payment via checks (as above) and applies to Canadians. At a passport agency, pay via credit cards, checks, money orders, cash, and pre-paid credit card. Those in overseas, check the acceptable methods.
#9: Submitting a Completed Application
If you are in the United States, you must issue your finished form, including all the requirements (I.D. photocopy, fees, and citizenship evidence) personally at an acceptance facility. If you’re traveling soon, you might be qualified to apply to the passport application agency individually.
If you’re outside the United States, you can contact your Consulate for further information on your submission as processes vary.
#10: Tracking Your Application Status
There are two ways in which you can track your application process. One, you can trail the process online, and two, you can call the United States Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. You can start tracking your passport application status seven-to-ten business days following your application date.
The following information will be required while checking the status: the last name (including suffixes and hyphens as suitable), your date of birth (mm/dd/yyyy), and your Social Security Number’s last four digits.