5 Steps To Getting A U.S. Passport.

Need a U.S. passport?  There are exceptions, but for most circumstances, it is quite easy to do.  Time wise, getting a passport may take longer than you may expect, so be sure to give yourself the time needed to complete this.  Follow the 5 steps below.

us passport
  • Step 1:  Gather the documents you need to apply.
    You will need to prove that you are a U.S. citizen.  This is normally evidenced by producing two documents of identification.  For most people, a birth certificate is the first document you should get a hold of.  The second is usually a driver's license or other government issued ID that features a similar level of identifying sophistication. (Your library card will not do.)  In some cases, you can use a previous, Full Validity undamaged U.S. passport.  (Full validity means the document is/was valid for 10 years for adults and 5 years for children under 16.  Expired full validity passports are accepted.)

    Concerning that birth certificate.  Unfortunately, you will need your official birth certificate issued by the city, county, or state of birth – not a facsimile.  Some states issue convenient birth certificate facsimiles or laminated, official looking, birth certificate cards.  In most cases, this will not do.  An acceptable birth certificate must:

    • List applicant's full name, date of birth, and place of birth.
    • List parent(s)' full names.
    • Have the signature of the city, county, or state registrar.
    • Have the date filed with registrar's office (must be within one year of birth).
    • Have the seal of issuing authority.
    • Be issued by the city, county, or state of birth.

    Anything less than this will lead to a significant delay in an already slow process.  It can take a month or more before the post office or other official entity will even notify you that the birth certificate you submitted is not acceptable.  From that point you are basically starting over!

  • Step 2:  Obtain an application.
    You can download an application from several online resources.  Be certain not to sign it until you are instructed to do so at the passport acceptance facility.  In most instances, this will be your local post office.

  • Step 3:  Have your ID photo taken.
    Due to the strict requirements for passport photos, do not attempt to take the photo yourself.  There are many pharmacies (CVS, Walgreens, for example), that offer this service.

  • Step 4:  Submit your application.
    Usually this is done at your local post office.  Do yourself a favor and go on one of your good days.  If you are in a challenging mood, pick another day.  As the good postal service representative is in complete control of the outcome of your application, you do not want to give them any reason to be unhappy with you.  Sometimes postal customer service can be slow and frustrating.  Keep that to yourself.  Make a friend instead!

  • Step 5:  Pay your fee.
    You're all done!  Now all you need to do is pay the appropriate fee, and wait.  First-time applicants can expect to pay between $135 and $165, for each passport requested.  Processing time can be as long as 8-11 weeks.