US Passport Application Requirements

Passport Application Requirements

Passport requirements vary based on several factors including the age of the applicant, previously issued passports, timing and more. Below we’ll discuss some of the more basic passport requirements. If you need specific requirements, select the service you need to be redirect to that specific info:

New Passport Requirements
Renew Passport Requirements
Child Passport Requirements
Second Passports Requirements
Passport Name Change Requirements
Lost, Stolen or Damaged Passport Requirements

Proof of US Citizenship Requirement

The most common document provided for this is an original (or certified copy, which is essentially an original) US-state issued, long form birth certificate. We specify “long form” because short and long are the two common version of birth certificates issued. Short form certificates don’t always have the necessary data points required when applying for a passport so they may or may not be accepted. Below are examples of both. The technical requirements for the birth certificate are:

  • Issued by the city, county, or state of birth
  • Lists applicant’s full name, date of birth, and place of birth
  • Lists parent(s)’ full names
  • Has the signature of the city, county, or state registrar
  • Has the date filed with registrar's office (must be within one year of birth)
  • Has the seal of issuing authority

Other acceptable documents include:

  • Fully-valid, undamaged U.S. passport (can be expired)
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship

Proof of Identification Requirement

When applying for a new or lost/stolen/damaged replacement passport (adult or child) you must present one primary photo ID. If you cannot present one of the primary photo IDs below, you must present a combination of secondary IDs. Primary IDs (submit one)

  • In-state, fully valid driver's license (not temporary or learner’s permit)
  • Fully-valid, undamaged U.S. passport book or passport card (with recognizable photo, can be expired)
  • Certificate of Naturalization (with recognizable photo)
  • Certificate of Citizenship (with recognizable photo)
  • Government employee ID (city, county, state, or federal)
  • U.S. military or military dependent ID
  • Current (valid) foreign passport
  • Matricula Consular (Mexican Consular ID) - commonly used by a parent of a U.S. citizen child applicant
  • Permanent resident card (Green Card) - commonly used by a parent of a U.S. citizen child applicant

Secondary IDs (submit a combination)

  • In-state, fully valid non-driver ID
  • Out-of-state driver's license
  • Out-of-state non-driver ID
  • Social Security card
  • Learner's or temporary driver's permit
  • Voter registration card
  • Employee ID
  • Student ID
  • Selective Service (draft) card
  • Medicare or other health card
  • Expired driver's license
  • Form DS-71, for an Identifying Witness (only available at your local Acceptance Facility or a Passport Agency).
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Passport Photo Requirement

Passport photos are a critical part of the application requirements – and often the most common reason for rejection. While the actual criteria for photos has not changed much, in recent years the State Dept has become very picky about the quality of this requirement. The working theory is that it relates to facial recognition software needing to be able to register specific points in the photo and things like eyeglasses, hair, shadows and other issues make it harder for the system to log the points.

For more detail about photos and a mobile app you can use to take your own, check out our US passport photo page.

Passport Application Requirement

Regardless of what type of passport you need, there are two ways to complete a US passport application – by hand or online. Applications completed by hand are done so by either downloading and printing an application off the internet or by picking up an original application from an acceptance facility (generally most post offices). Online applications are completed via the US State Departments online passport wizard. While th online tool may initially sound like a more complicated step, the benefit is less mistakes. The information you submit to the form is used to determine the correct application and the information you input, although not actually stored in the system, is used to create a bar coded application. When received by the passport agency they simply scan the bar code which populates your details into their system which they spot check for accuracy and then continue the review process. With traditional hand written forms the State Dept agents must try to read your writing (and we all know how good your penmanship is!) and then type it into their computer – two places errors can occur. For that reason, the online wizard, while a little less convenient for most, is the preferred method. It should be noted that due to their requirements with the State Dept, expediting services can only submit applications completed online.

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