What Documentation Is Necessary to Obtain a Passport?

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All U.S. citizens are eligible to receive a U.S. passport. A passport is an official identification documents which allows you to travel internationally. Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), if you are U.S. citizen returning to the United States by air from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean, you are now required to show a U.S. passport for entry into the United States.

First-time Applicants

If you are obtaining a U.S. passport for the first time, you must apply in person at an acceptance facility or passport agency. You must also apply in person if you are under the age of 16 or your prior U.S. passport was issued when you were under age 16, if your prior U.S. passport was lost, stolen or damaged, if your prior U.S. passport was issued more than 15 years ago, or if you have changed your name since your U.S. passport was issued and you are unable to legally document your name change.

Required Documents

You must complete the Form DS-11 and submit it with documentary evidence of your citizenship. This evidence can be one of the following: previously issued, undamaged U.S. passport; certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state; consular report of birth abroad or certification of birth; naturalization certificate; and certificate of citizenship.

You must submit an original copy. All documents submitted as evidence of your U.S. citizenship will be returned to you along with your passport. If you do not have any of the above documents, you may submit secondary evidence of your U.S. citizenship. The U.S. State Department lists acceptable forms of secondary evidence on its website (see references).

Required Identification

When you submit your application, you will be asked to show identification. You will also have to submit a photocopy of this identification with your application. Acceptable forms of identification include: previously issued, undamaged U.S. passport; naturalization certificate; valid driver's license; current government ID (city, state or federal); and current military ID (military and dependents).

If you do not have any of the above forms of identification, you may submit secondary identification. The U.S. State Department lists acceptable forms of secondary identification on its website (see references).

Other Requirements

You must pay a passport fee. Fees vary depending your application type and method of delivery. Payment can be made by check, credit card or money order. You must also submit two 2-by-2-inch color passport photographs taken within the last six months along with your application.

Passport Renewal

If you already have a passport and need to renew it, you may send it in the mail to the National Passport Processing Center with a completed form DS-82. Your passport must meet the following requirements: it must not be damaged or altered, it must have been issued to you when you were age 16 or older in your current legal name, and it must have been issued within the last 15 years.

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