Apply For A Passport Your Self
Replace a broken toilet. Repair a carburetor. We get it – you’re a do-it-yourselfer. Good for you! Applying for your passport isn’t as hard as either of those so you should be just fine. Let’s go over some of the basics…
You are dealing with three basic time frames. Standard passport processing which takes 6-8 weeks, expedited passport processing which takes 2-3 weeks, or in-person expediting (either yourself or through a private service) which can be done in as little as one day (although usually under extreme situations). One thing you NEED to factor in is the possibility that something is going to go wrong. The biggest mistake people make when applying for a passport is not taking potential delays into account.
If your vacation is 9 weeks from now, the 6-8 week service isn’t enough. You have to assume that the documents which are being mailed to the government are going to take twice as long as they should to get delivered. You have to assume that your photos are not going to be accepted. You have to assume something will go wrong. 6-8 weeks is an estimated guideline and if problems occur either in the mail or with your application it will take time to resolve. We’d recommend that anyone traveling in less than 3 months use the expedited 2-3 week service. Along the same lines, if you’re leaving in less than a few weeks, apply in person at a regional passport agency (this is different that an Acceptance Facility – more on that later) or use a passport expediting service. Side note, a good passport expediting company also assumes something is going to go wrong and will encourage you to purchase something that may seem more expensive than you need – like you’re leaving in 10 days and they’re telling you the 7-9 days service isn’t enough. As long as it is not grossly out of whack, they aren’t really “upselling” you, they are just trying to build in a cushion. Shipments get delayed, State Dept computer systems go down, all sorts of things can happen. You should have the same mindset doing it yourself. Build in a buffer.
Here’s a great video provided by the US State Department that explains the process of applying on your own for a passport. Ok, maybe it’s not a “great” video, but it’s pretty informative. Ok, it’s not really that informative, but it’s a video and those are always fun. It’s not fun. Don’t watch it.
See - we tried to tell you. Ok, so now that State Dept has given all the information you need in that video, you’re ready, right? No? Ok, let’s talk about what you actually need to know.
Apply for New Passports (adults)
We have a whole section that goes into the requirements for applying for a new passport, but here’s the short version. Here are the qualifications for a New US Passport:
- Applicant is a US citizen over 16 years old, AND;
- Applicant has never had a U.S. Passport issued before, OR;
- Applicant was under 16 years old when most recent passport was issued OR;
- Applicant has not had a U.S. Passport issued for over 15 years.
If all of the above are true, then you can apply for a new passport. You will gather several items (your birth certificate, driver’s license or other state issued ID, passport photo, passport application form DS-11 and passport application fees. You will take these items to an Acceptance Agent – a Federal employee located at most Post Offices and some local Count Clerks or courts – who will review the documents and verify your identity. These documents are then sealed an envelope and forwarded to one of the US State Department Passport Agency offices for processing. Depending on the service you select, your new passport will be delivered to you in the mail in between 2 and 8 weeks. There are some other options including in person interviews and more details on the documents which should be reviewed on our new adult passport page.
Apply for Passport Renewals (adults)
Here are the qualifications to renew adult US Passports:
- Applicant has most recent passport is in his or her possession, AND;
- Applicant was 16 years or older when passport was issued AND;
- Applicant's passport was issued within the past 15 years AND;
- Applicant's passport is not damaged (normal wear & tear is acceptable)
If the above is accurate, then you can renew your passport. In case you missed it, kid’s passports can’t be renewed. For applicants who are currently under 16, move to the next section for children’s passports. For applicants who are over 16 years old but whose previous passport was issued while they were less than 16 years old (the passport would have only been valid for 5 years), go to the section above to apply for first new adult passport.
Renewing a passport is the easiest passport service there is. You gather a few items, your current passport, passport photo and a passport application form DS-82, and mail them to the State Dept. Depending on the service you select, your new passport will be delivered to you in the mail in between 2 and 8 weeks. On our passport renewal page we provide more detail about the documents, application, mailing addresses and fees. If you have legally changed your name since your most recent passport was issued, the process of passport name changes is very similar to renewals plus the inclusion of an original name change document (which will be returned to you with your new passport).
Need a Passport Fast?
Get Your Passport in 2 to 3 Business Days
Applying for Children’s Passports (under 16)
Here are the qualifications for a Child's US Passport:
- Applicant is a US citizen under 16 years old, AND;
- Applicant has never had a U.S. passport issued before, OR;
- Applicant's passport has or will expire soon.
Applying for children’s passports is the most complicated passport procedure. This is due to the additional requirements and checks to protect children. Similarly to new adult passports, birth certificates, any previous passports, photos, application, and a visit to an Acceptance Agent – a Federal employee located at most Post Offices and some local Count Clerks or courts – who will review the documents and verify the child’s identity are part of the process. What is unique about children’s applications is all parents listed on the birth certificate (or all those having legal custody of the child) are required to provide permission for the child to receive a passport. In most cases, this means both parents, with valid ID, being present with the child at the Acceptance Agent. There are times when one parent cannot attend in which case the other parent must bring a signed and notarized government form DS-3053 along with a copy of the other parents ID. In cases of legal custody issues, original court documents showing full custody must be provided. Note that in many cases, whether full custody is assigned or not, court documents will often specify passport permissions in the agreements. Due to the complexity of these applications, please take the time to read through our child passport application page.
Adding Passport Pages
The government used to add additional blank pages to passports if they filled up well before they expired (heavy international traveler problem). The ceased this service at the end of 2015 unfrequently so the only option now is an early renewal. When you renew, you can request a “jumbo passport” with 52 pages which might help alleviate the problem in the future.
Other Common Passport Services
Some other common passport services are Passport Name Changes, Replacing Lost, Stolen or Damaged Passports and obtaining Second Passports. We have pages set up to provide details on each of these services which break down the requirements, prices, etc.