How to Get a New Passport in 5 Easy Steps

how to get a new passport in 5 steps

Are you about to leave the country for the first time? Does the passport application process make your eyes glaze over with boredom and confusion? You’re in luck! This guide will show you how to get a new passport in five easy steps.

Step 1: Fill out a new passport application.

The first item of business is filling out your passport application. For a new passport, you’ll use Form DS-11, available here.

If you want your passport application approved the first time, getting this step right is crucial. Here are a few expert tips:

  • You can print the form and fill it out by hand. However, it’s better to fill it out online and then print it. If the passport office can’t read your handwriting, they won’t approve your application.
  • Use black ink.
  • Don’t sign the form until you get to the passport office and the passport acceptance agent tells you to.

Step 2: Gather supporting documents.

To get a passport, you have to prove that you are who you say you are and that you’re a US citizen. You’ll need the following documents:

Proof of identity

Most people use a driver’s license or state ID as proof of identity.  Don’t have one? Here are some other possibilities:

  • Certificate of naturalization
  • Certificate of citizenship
  • Government employee ID
  • US military ID
  • Valid foreign passport
  • Trusted traveler ID, such as Global Entry, FAST, SENTRI or NEXUS cards.

Please note: Additional identification is required if your driver’s license or state ID was issued by a different state than the state where you submit your passport application. The second ID should show your photo, your name, your birthday and the date it was issued.

Proof of citizenship

For proof of citizenship, you’ll need one of the following documents:

  • A US birth certificate. Your birth certificate must be issued by the local government where you were born (not the hospital), and it must have your full name, your parent’s full names, your date of birth and your place of birth. Also, it must have an official seal and official signature, and it must have been filed within one year of your birth.
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad.
  • Certificate of Naturalization.
  • Certificate of Citizenship.

When you go to the passport office, bring both an original and a photocopy of each document used to establish identity and citizenship.

Step 3: Get a passport photo.

The next step is to get a passport photo. Now, before you try to take one yourself, keep in mind that the State Department is harder to impress than your Facebook friends or your Instagram followers.

In fact, they have a specific set of requirements, and if your photo falls short, your application will be delayed. We recommend going somewhere that offers professional passport photos, like a drug store.

Step 4: Find a passport acceptance office.

Now that you have everything together, it’s time to make a trip to the nearest passport acceptance office. These are usually located in post offices, libraries or local government buildings.

Use this tool to find a passport acceptance office that’s convenient for you.

Once you’re in the office, an acceptance agent will examine your documents, witness you signing your application, and take your payment.  You’ll pay an application fee, which goes directly to the Department of State, and an execution fee, which goes to the passport office. The State Department takes checks and money orders for the application fee. For the execution fee, it’s a good idea to call ahead and see what payment methods the acceptance office accepts.

In 2018, the execution fee went up to $35. Here are the application fees:

  • Adult application fee (Age 16 and older): $110 for a passport book, $30 for a passport card, $140 for both.
  • Child application fee: $80 for a passport book, $15 for a passport card, $95 for both.

NOTE: Children have additional document requirements. If you’re applying for a child passport, read this first.

Step 5: Wait.

When it comes to getting a new passport, the waiting is the hardest part. Be patient- it usually takes four to six weeks for standard processing, but it can take longer if there are a lot of passport applications to process.

If you need your passport more quickly, you can pay an extra $60 expedite fee at the acceptance office when you apply. That will cut the processing time down to two or three weeks.

If you need it sooner, your options are limited: Make an appointment to apply in person at one of the 26 regional passport agencies that serve the general public, or use an expediting company like Express Passport.


How to Get a New Passport Quickly, the Easy Way

The choice is yours, but using an expediter has a few key advantages that more than justify the additional cost.  First, consider that there are only 26 regional passport agencies in the entire country. You do the math . . . Unless you live in a major city, you’re going on a road trip – maybe even catching a plane!

If you use an expediting company, you don’t have to travel. You don’t even have to make an appointment unless your local post office/ acceptance office requires them.  All you have to do is go to the acceptance office and let the agent witness your signature and seal your application package. You send the paperwork to the expediting company, and they deal with the State Department for you. Then, once your passport is issued, they send it back to you.

Also, Express Passport can walk you through the application process. Our trained passport specialists catch tiny mistakes you might have missed, but that could delay your passport application.  So, you can apply with confidence, even if you’re in a hurry.

Ready to get started on your new passport application? Apply now the easy way!