Requirements For Obtaining a US Passport

Passport application

Last Updated on August 26, 2023 by PAVSAdmin

What Are The Requirements For A Passport?

Having a passport is like having a license to travel. Your passport allows you to not only travel to other countries, but to re-enter the United States afterwards.

Because it’s such an important document, the federal government goes to great lengths to ensure a US passport never falls into the wrong hands. Whether you’re applying for your first passport or simply trying to renew one, there are a handful of requirements to complete and forms you’ll need to fill out before your application can be processed successfully.

Although the steps to acquiring a passport are fairly straightforward, there are a number of things you need to be aware of. And while this may seem like a lot of work, don’t worry – getting your passport isn’t really as difficult as it may seem.

Here are the most basic requirements for obtaining or renewing your passport.

Who Should Have A Passport?

All US citizens who wish to travel by air outside of the United States must have a passport. This includes infants.

Additionally, children under 16 years old must have both parents’ consent to apply for a passport. The application process must be done in person with the parents, who will need to co-sign the application.

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Applying For Your Passport

The initial step to getting your first passport is filling out the DS-11 form that’s issued by the US State Department. DS-11 forms are used for individuals who are applying for their very first passport and can also be filled out on behalf of children under the age of 16.

The DS-11 form can be filled out online or printed but must be presented in person at a passport acceptance facility or passport agency. The form covers some very basic personal information as well as a few additional questions.

After you fill out the DS-11 form, you’ll begin to collect the required documents needed for passport processing.

You’ll need proof of US citizenship and identification. All documents that can be used to prove U.S. citizenship are acceptable, including:

  • US birth certificate
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad/Certification of Birth
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship.

Additionally, if applying on behalf of a minor, you’ll need proof of your relationship to the applicant. In most instances, a photocopy of your birth certificate is valid proof of citizenship.

You’ll also need to provide a front and back copy of a valid photo ID, which includes over a dozen types of identification. Some acceptable forms of ID include:

  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security Card
  • Government-issued ID
  • Military ID
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Previously issued passport
  • Current valid foreign passport

If you’re unable to submit a primary form of ID, you must provide as many secondary forms of documentation as you’re able. Some examples of secondary identification include:

  • Delayed birth certificate
  • Letter of no record
  • Early public or private documents
  • Birth Affidavit (Form-DS-10)

Those applicants having a dual citizenship will be required to have a US passport in order to enter and leave the country. They may also need to have a passport from the country for which they share citizenship in order to enter and leave there as well.

Next, you’ll need to head to your nearest store or online service that provides passport photos and purchase one 2” by 2” color photograph of yourself. Be sure to follow the guidelines for the appearance of the photo.

Finally, after you’ve collected all the needed documents and filled out your form, you can move on to calculating your fees. Passport fees depend specifically on your situation but will generally run you between $130 and $200 for the entire process.

The last step is to simply submit your application.

How Long Is The Passport Application Process?

It may take anywhere from 4-6 weeks for your passport to be processed, which is why it’s important to submit your application well ahead of any travel plans. However, if you’re needing a passport in a hurry, you can pay a fee to get the process expedited.

If your application is expedited, you could get your passport in approximately 2-3 weeks. However, if you have an emergency situation you may be able get your passport even sooner.

Factors That May Cause Your Application To Be Rejected

Most passport applications come with very few restrictions, provided you follow all procedures and rules. Some factors, however, can cause a passport application to be rejected.

Some examples include:

  • Providing false information on your application
  • Non-payment of child support payments
  • Conviction for felony drug offenses
  • Having an arrest warrant
  • Incomplete/inadequate information on the application

Passport Services

If you want to make the passport application as simple as possible, or you’re concerned about potentially making mistakes, you can get assistance. Many people use a passport service company to help them through the process from beginning to end.

The purpose of these services is to help you take care of your passport or visa needs so that you end up spending as little time and effort as possible on your end. Just as you can pay a driver to pick up and deliver your dinner from a local restaurant, you can get the assistance of a passport service to help you manage all of your passport-related tasks.

However, while there are some great passport services out there, the first time you apply for a passport you will still need to go to your local government office to finish the passport application or renewal process. Even so, having knowledgeable and professional staff handling all the paperwork for you takes a huge amount of stress and headache out of the entire process.


Although it may seem complicated, obtaining a passport is easy if you go through each step carefully and fulfill all requirements. Keep a list of all the tasks that you must complete, and your future travel plans in mind.

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