Who needs a valid U.S. passport?
A passport is a necessity for U.S. citizens seeking to travel abroad to another country. Having a valid U.S. passport is essential for citizens who:
Seek to visit family living or traveling abroad
Are planning a vacation in another country
Hold a job that may require regular international travel
How long does it take to get a passport?
The normal waiting time to process a U.S. passport is around 6-8 weeks. However, this time can be reduced if the applicant opts for an expedited or express processing service.
|Routine||6-8 Weeks (includes mailing time)|
|Expedited||2-3 Weeks (includes mailing time)|
|Expedited at Agency||*8 business days|
*Based on necessity and urgency, restrictions apply
How many blank visa pages are necessary to travel abroad?
Some countries require at least 2-4 visa/stamp pages in your passport to be left blank in your passport upon arrival to their borders. In cases where this applies, some airlines will not permit you to board if this prerequisite is not met.
How long is a passport valid for?
The duration of a passport’s validity varies depending on the age of the passport applicant. If for example, you apply for a passport aged 15 or under it will only be valid for 5 years. However, applicants aged 16 or older receive passports that are valid for 10 years.
Is it true that some countries require at least 6 months of validity remaining on your passport on arrival?
Yes, a number of countries do require that you have at least 6 months of passport validity remaining beyond the dates of your trip. In this event, some airlines will not allow passengers to board who do not meet this requirement.
For example, if you are planning a trip to a country with these criteria in place 3 months from now but your passport has 8 months’ validity remaining, it will have only 5 months left before its expiry date on arrival. You will therefore not be permitted entry with the current document. In this situation, you will need to renew your passport before traveling.
Can you use a damaged passport?
A significantly damaged passport will need to be replaced. If there is substantial damage to the book cover and/or the personal data and photo page it will not be accepted as valid and you will need to apply for a new passport.
Damage that could invalidate your passport includes:
Unofficial markings on the data page
Missing or torn out visa pages
Cut off corners or sections of the book covers
What is a passport card and how can it be used?
A passport card is a smaller wallet-sized travel document. It can be used to re-enter the United States via land borders and seaports of entry from eligible countries, including:
The passport card is a less expensive and more convenient alternative to a passport book for frequent travelers to destinations in North America and around the Caribbean. Be aware, however, a passport card cannot be used for international air travel.
How can I apply for a passport card?
A passport card can be applied for using the same form you would use for a passport book (DS-11 or DS-82). In order to apply for the card, you will need to indicate your preference to receive one via a marked checkbox when completing the form.
In the event that you already have a passport book and are eligible to use a renewal by mail DS-82 form, you also can use this to apply for a card even if it’s your first passport card. If you are ineligible for this option, you should use a DS-11 form instead.
Can I apply for both a passport book and passport card simultaneously?
Yes, this is also possible. To apply for both a card and a book at the same time, check the appropriate box on the form that indicates you would like to receive both forms of ID.
If you already have a passport book but wish to apply for a passport card you can use a DS-82 form even if it’s your first card. You can also use this form to apply for a passport card and renew your passport simultaneously.
How many photos are required when applying for both a passport card and a passport book?
You will only require one photo if this is the case.
How should the photo on the application appear?
There are a number of criteria that should be followed when submitting the photo for a passport application.
The photo must be in color
It must be precisely 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm)
Your face must be clearly visible
The photo must have been taken within 6 months of your application and must reflect your current appearance
Uniforms or clothing that resembles a uniform may not be worn in the photo except in the case of religious attire which is worn daily
Jewelry and tattoos may appear in the photo, although the jewelry should not block large portions of your face
The photo must be taken by another person or via a photobooth. Selfies are not permitted
Do not apply any social media filters to the photos
Eyeglasses should not be worn
The background should be plain white or off-white
How can I renew my child’s passport?
It is not possible to renew a child’s passport by mail. Instead, if your child is under 16 years of age you will need to appear in person at a passport agency or authorized passport application facility with the child and your fellow parent or their other main legal guardians. All applicants under 16 must apply in person via a DS-11 form.
What should I do if my child is too young to sign his/her first passport book?
In the event that a child is too young to sign their own passport book, their parent or legal guardian should print the child’s name and sign his/her name in the space provided for the signature. Additionally, the parent or guardian should also indicate their relationship to the child in the parenthesis next to the signature.
How can I get a certified copy of my U.S. birth certificate
In order to obtain a copy of your birth certificate, you will need to contact a birth certificate service and apply to receive it from the state you were born in.
Can I apply for a passport if I do not have a social security number
If you wish to apply for a U.S. passport and you haven’t been assigned a social security number you will need to submit a statement that must include the following phrase: “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the following is true and correct: I have never been issued a Social Security number by the Social Security Administration.” The statement must also be signed and dated.