How to Fill Out an Application for a Passport

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Now that the U.S. government has instituted new travel rules, you'll find you need a passport to travel to places that previously didn't require one for entry, such as Canada and certain Caribbean islands. It doesn't take a lot of time to fill out an application for a passport, as long as you are prepared by having the application, two color photographs, and the supporting documentation needed for it to be processed.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 color photographs of your face
  • Passport application
  • Birth certificate or other proof of U.S. citizenship
  • Valid photo ID
  • Black-ink pen
  • Obtain a U.S. passport application. You can either request an application from your local county clerk's office or U.S. post office, or download one (see Resources below). You need a particular application if requesting a passport for the first time, rather than a renewal.

  • Have your picture taken. Many local businesses, such as drugstores and photography-based shops, can take a headshot photo for a fee. Also, inquire at your local county clerk's office whether they take passport photographs at the same time you submit your application. You must have two color copies of the same headshot pose, each measuring 2 inches by 2 inches.

  • Gather the necessary documentation and funds. You will need the passport application and instructions, a valid photo ID such as a driver's license, proof of citizenship and the money for the fees (some must be paid in cash; others can be paid by check or money order). Fees vary by year.

  • Complete the forms. Using black ink, correctly fill in all of the information asked for on the passport application. If you need information you don't have, such as your parents' places of birth, you must find out the answers. All required fields must be completed. Do not sign and date the form until you are asked to.

  • Go in person to pay the fee and submit your passport application. Passport applications can be submitted to your local county clerk's office and most U.S. post offices. Once there, an official will check your photo ID, ensure you have filled out the forms correctly, have you sign the application, and ask for your photos and proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. From there, they will take the proof of citizenship and the application, accept payment and begin processing your passport application, which can take a number of weeks.

Tips & Warnings

  • It takes anywhere from three to eight weeks for the application to be processed and your documents and new passport to be mailed to you.
  • Make sure your photographs are sized correctly, following the parameters shown on the application form.
  • Photo Credit Photo by Nicole78
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