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How to Get Your First U.S. Passport Book

How to Get Your First U.S. Passport Book

A U.S. passport is your ticket to travel around the world. If you haven’t traveled internationally before, or you traveled to Canada before passports were required, then you may not be aware of what passports really are, how they work, or how to get one.

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

It's usually better to get a passport through the U.S. government, and not a commercial passport application agency; even if you need to get a passport fast, they won't speed up the process any more than you can.

Get Your Application Prepared

If this is your first time getting a passport, you do need to apply in person, but you can get everything ready ahead of time.

  • Fill out your application online or print it out DS-11(but do not sign it until you are instructed at the passport acceptance facility)

  • Have proof of US citizenship — usually your birth certificate is easiest (you'll need the original)

  • Have an ID — usually your driver's license is easiest (you'll need both the original and a photocopy of it)

  • Have one passport photo (Walgreen's is the Best they always get right the first time)

  • Payment for the fee — for first time passports, it's $110 application fee and a $35 execution fee. The new total fee is $145.

Apply in Person

Now that you have all the requirements compiled for your application, you just need to locate the nearest place where you can submit your passport application. Check with your County to see where to go

Tips and Tricks for Passport Applications

  • The US passport fee is $110 (plus $35 fee) if you are 16 and older, and the U.S. passport is good for ten years.

  • The US passport fee is $80 (plus $35 fee) if you are under 16, and the new passport is good for five years.

  • Some countries require that your passport be valid for a six-month period after you leave that country for return to the U.S. Make sure you apply for a new one while you have plenty of valid months left on it.

  • Remember that you need a passport to travel back to the U.S. from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.

  • Leave a copy of your passport at home, and email a copy to yourself with other important travel documents. If you lose your passport overseas, having a copy will make getting a temporary or replacement passport far easier.

Note: Passport books are different than passport cards.

Where Can I Travel with My Passport Card?

You can use your passport card for travel by land or sea to and from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. You cannot use the passport card for international air travel, nor can you use it for travel to other international destinations. If you plan to travel by air or wish to visit a country other than Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or one of the other Caribbean island nations, you should apply for a passport book instead.

Track Your Application Status

You can check your application status online or by phone. You will need the following information:

  1. Last Name

  • Include suffixes (Jones III, Patton Jr, etc.)

  • Include hyphens as appropriate (Jackson-Smith)

  1. Date of Birth (MM/DD/YYYY)

  2. Last Four Digits of Social Security Number

Check Online

  • Access the Online Passport Status System to check your application status.

  • It takes 7-10 business days after you applied for your application to be trackable online.

  • Receive automatic email updates on the status of your application by entering your email address after locating your pending application in the Online Passport Status System.

Don’t wait till the last minute to apply for a Passport Book it could take 6-12 weeks.

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