How to Apply for your Passport the Easy Way

Where Can I Apply for a Passport?You can apply for a passport at over 5,000 passport acceptance facilities nationwide that include many Federal, state and probate courts, many post offices, some libraries and a number of county and municipal offices. These designated acceptance facilities are usually more convenient because they are near your home or workplace. (Most of the 25 passport agencies are designated to serve only those departing urgently and appointments are required.

When Do I Have to Apply in Person?

You must always apply in person if you are 17 or younger and if you are applying for a passport for the first time or do not meet all of the requirements for renewing a previous passport by mail.

Click here for information on special requirements for children under age 16

Or see How to Apply in Person for a Passport for more information about who can submit an application by mail vs. in-person. 

Where Can I Get Passport Forms?

Passport acceptance facilities stock passport forms. (See Other Than at Passport Agencies, Where Can I Apply for a Passport? Passport forms can also be downloaded or obtained by calling the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778, sending an email to or from the passport agencies.

May I Apply for a Passport by Mail?

See How to Apply for a Passport Renewal.

When Should I Apply for a Passport?

Apply several months in advance of your planned departure. If you will need visas from foreign embassies, allow more time.

What Happens to My Passport Application After I Submit It?

If you apply at a passport acceptance facility, the same day that you apply, your application will be sent to Passport Services for processing. You will receive your passport within 6 weeks via first class mail. If you apply at a passport agency, you will receive your passport within 5 weeks (25 business days) via first class mail. Your passport will be mailed to the mailing address you provided on your application. If you need your passport sooner, see How to Get a Passport in a Hurry.

What Should I Do if My Passport Is Lost or Stolen?

If your still valid passport is lost or stolen, you can report the loss when you apply for a new passport. In addition to Form DS-11, you will need to complete a Form DS-64, “Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport.” You may also call 202-955-0430, which has voice mail for non-business hours, Eastern Time.

If you are abroad, immediately report the loss to local police authorities and the Consular Section of the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

For more information, see How to Replace a Lost or Stolen Passport.

Do I Need to Obtain a Separate Passport for My Baby?

Yes. All persons, including newborn infants, are required to obtain passports in their own names.

Click here for information on special requirements for children under age 16

What Do I Do if My Name Changes?

If you need to get a valid passport amended due to a name change, use Form DS-5504 if it has been less than a year from the time your passport was issued.  If more than one year has passed since the date of issue, then use Form DS-82. See May I Apply for a Passport by Mail? for the documentation needed to accompany the form and your current passport for amendment.

What If I Need a Passport in a Hurry?

If you are leaving on an emergency trip, apply in person at the nearest passport agency, presenting your tickets or airline-generated itinerary, as well as other required items listed in this publication. To ensure that customers with imminent travel receive their passports in time for their trips, many passport agencies are now operating by appointments and are generally serving only those leaving in less than 14 days. (See the list of passport agencies for specific details.)

If you do not live near a passport agency, but your overnight delivery service is reliable, departures within 7 to 10 business days may often be accommodated by appointments at a nearby passport acceptance facility. You will need to pay the additional $60 fee for expedited service and include a self-addressed, prepaid, two-way, overnight delivery envelope. (We have found that for states not densely populated and/or far from our Pittsburgh, PA cashiering facility, overnight service is not always reliable.) For all those customers leaving within 6 or fewer business days, apply at a passport agency. Whichever way you apply, be sure to include your departure date and travel plans on your application.

What Else Should I Know About Passports?

Before traveling abroad, make a copy of the identification page so it is easier to get a new passport, should it be necessary. It is also a good idea to carry two extra passport-size photos with you.

If you run out of pages before your passport expires, submit Form DS-4085, along with your passport to one of the passport agencies. (Please allow time for processing of the request.) If you travel abroad frequently, you may request a 48-page passport at the time of application.

Some countries require that your passport be valid at least 6 months beyond the dates of your trip. Check with the nearest embassy or consulate of the countries that you plan to visit to find out their entry requirements.

In addition to foreign entry requirements, U.S. law must be considered. With certain exceptions, it is against U.S. law for U.S. citizens to enter or leave the country without a valid U.S. passport. Generally for tourists, the exceptions refer to direct travel within U.S. territories or between North, South, or Central America (except Cuba).