How to Get Your First U.S. Passport the Easiest Way

New applicants must submit their passport information in person.
New applicants must submit their passport information in person. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

The easiest way to get a United States passport is to apply for it in person. This is actually a requirement if this is your first passport, or you are under 16. For an additional fee, the passport photo can be taken at the same place you submit the application.

Things You'll Need

  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship
  • Fees
  • Passport photos

Complete the passport application form DS-11 at the Department of State website. The forms are also available at most post offices and public libraries.

Take the completed form to a U.S. Passport Acceptance Facility or a passport agency. A post office can serve as an acceptance facility. The form must be accompanied by evidence of citizenship, current identification and a photocopy of that identification. Check the State Department website for more information on acceptable identification since those rules can and do change. For example, in 2011, the department started demanding a birth certificate that included the full names of the applicant's parents.

Pay the fees that apply to your passport. The fees may change based on your age and if there is a photo cost involved. In 2011, an adult passport book and card, plus execution fees, cost $165. The office does not accept credit or debit cards.

Request the Department of State's Expedited Passport Processing Service if the passport is needed within two weeks. There is an additional $60 fee for this service. Otherwise, the passport process takes about eight weeks.

Tips & Warnings

  • Have required documentation
  • Follow guidelines for payment options
  • Check with your local post office for the nearest USPS facility that accepts passports.
  • Your birth certificate will go with the application for processing, so you will be giving that document up temporarily. It will be returned to you, either with your passport, or in a separate mailing.

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