Need a new passport? All US citizens planning on traveling internationally by air need a valid US passport, including newborns. If you are traveling by land or sea to Mexico, Canada, or the Caribbean, you can use either a passport book or a passport card. However, it is highly recommended that you obtain a valid passport book in case of an emergency. You may need to fly home unexpectedly.
A first-time passport applicant is likely to have many questions, so we have prepared a helpful guide to simplify the process. Most importantly are eligibility requirements and necessary documents that you will need to prepare. Next, we will go over the step-by-step process to get your new Adult passport.
Apply for a New Passport!
New Passport – Eligibility
US passports valid for 10 years are issued to US citizens age 16 and older. You will need to apply for a new passport if:
- You are a first time applicant and have never been issued a US passport.
- Your most recent passport was issued when you were age 15 or younger.
- Your last passport was issued more than 15 years ago.
Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for a US Passport for the First Time
Gather all documents required to apply for a new US passport.
- Proof of US Citizenship (birth certificate)
- New Passport Application Form (DS-11), completed offline or filled out online at https://pptform.state.gov/ and printed.
- One passport photo
- Photocopy of your driver’s license or other state-issued ID (front and back)
- Flight itinerary or other proof of travel plans (only required if you need to rush a new passport)
- New US Passport application fee – You will need two checks, one made payable to “US Department of State” for $110 ($170 if you need to expedite a new passport) and a second check for $25 for the Passport Acceptance Agent fee.
Passport Acceptance Agent
Visit a Passport Acceptance Agent and have your application sealed into an official envelope. They can be found at main branch US Post Offices and at Clerk of the Court offices. To find the most convenient one, visit //passportinfo.com/passport-offices/
Have your passport application processed in one of three ways:
- By Mail – The Passport Acceptance Agent will send in your sealed envelope to be processed at the National Passport Center.
- At a Passport Agency – If you are in a rush for a new passport, you can visit US Passport Agencies located in major US cities, where your new passport will be processed on-site.
- By a Passport Expediting Company – If you need to expedite a new passport, you can send your sealed envelope to a reputable passport expediting company, who will hand-carry your application to a Passport Agency to process your passport fast.
Special Requirements for Applicants Age 16 or 17
Applicants age 16 or 17, who are not yet legal adults, should be accompanied to the Passport Acceptance Agent by one of their parents to show “parental awareness” that they are applying for a new passport. If the traveler needs to go to the Acceptance Agent alone, they can take a signed letter from a parent stating that the parents approve of the passport request, along with a photocopy of the parent’s passport or driver’s license.
If the young applicant does not have a driver’s license to show as current identification, a parent can go with them to the Passport Acceptance Agent, show their own passport or driver’s license, and vouch for the identity of their child.
How to Get a New Passport Fast
Applying for a new passport by mail will take up to 8 weeks. If you opt for expedited service by mail, for an additional $60 government fee, your passport will arrive in 2-3 weeks. If you are in a hurry for a new passport, you can either go to a Passport Agency in person or use the services of a passport expediting company. These companies can get you a new passport in as little as 24 hours.
Passport Agencies are located in 26 major US cities across the country, and you will need to make an appointment to visit one by calling the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778. Using a passport expediting company will save you the hassle of making an appointment to apply in person and is the fastest and easiest way to obtain a new passport.