Do you need a new passport? If you’re preparing to travel outside of the United States and you don’t have a valid passport, the answer is yes. If you’re wondering what exactly you need to do to make sure you get your passport on time, so you can leave as scheduled, you’re not alone. Obtaining a passport for the first time is different than renewing an existing passport, and the process can be overwhelming. Here’s what you need to know.
Applying for Your Passport
When you apply for a passport for the first time, you must do so in person, so an acceptance agent can verify your identity and witness the signing of your passport application.
To apply for your new passport, you will need to:Complete form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport. Do not sign the form.
Gather the following documentation:Proof of citizenship, (e.g. certified birth certificate or a naturalization certificate)Identification (e.g. valid driver’s license, or current government or military ID)A photocopy of the front and back of your identificationPassport photo All applicable fees
Take the completed, unsigned application and all of the supporting documentation to a passport agency or passport acceptance facility. After you arrive, a representative will have you sign the completed application form.
In some situations, you must follow the steps for applying for a new passport even if you are not applying for your first passport.
You should follow the steps outlined above if: You are under 16 or your most recent passport was issued when you were under 16Your most recent passport was lost, stolen, or damagedYour most recent passport is more than 15 years oldThe name on your passport is different than your current name and you cannot legally document your name change
When Will I Receive My Passport?
The time it takes to process your application and issue your new passport depends on the type of service you request. The average processing time for routine service is four to six weeks. For a $60 fee, the government will expedite your request. The average processing time for expedited service is two to four weeks. However, all times are estimates and they can be much longer when application volume is high. According to the U.S. government, peak application volume usually occurs between January and July in any given year.
Where Can I Apply?
The U.S. Department of State has authorized thousands of state, county, township and municipal government offices, including post offices, clerks of court, public libraries and more across the U.S. to accept passport applications on its behalf. You can apply for your new passport in person at any of these acceptance facilities, and request routine or expedited processing based on your travel needs.
If you’re traveling in two weeks or less and can’t wait the two to six weeks it will take to process your application and issue your passport, you can apply at one of the 24 regional passport agencies throughout the country. You must make an appointment to apply at one of these agencies.
However, with only 24 in the country, this is not a practical option for most people. If you need your passport quickly, but don’t live near a passport agency or don’t have the time to stand in line all day, there is another option. You can authorize a passport expediting service like “easy service” to secure your new passport on your behalf. Passport expediters can usually get your passport for you within 24 hours if you have urgent travel needs.
What Does a Professional Expediter Do?
When you apply for a passport for the first time, you must appear before an acceptance agent to have your identity verified before the expediting service can begin its work. The acceptance agent will put your passport application and all of your supporting documentation in a sealed envelope that you provide to the expediting service. They will work with the U.S. Passport Agency to get your passport processed. When your new passport is complete, they will either overnight it to you, or you can pick it up at their office.
Having someone who is familiar with the application process and the most up-to-date passport requirements guide you through the process can put your mind at ease and help ensure the process goes smoothly. When you choose a professional expediting service like “easy service” you will have peace of mind knowing your application will be processed quickly and you will have your passport when you need it, so you won’t have to delay your travel plans.
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