The most important thing in your travel planning is securing a passport.  Without it, you’re not going out of the country.  So you may be wondering, “How do I get a passport?”  The process may not be a quick one, but if you are organized and allow an appropriate amount of time, you can follow these steps to getting your passport.

Be careful to review all the information listed. It’s important to read everything thoroughly, as there are many rules and caveats that adjust requirements just slightly. If you miss some of these, you may be stuck with a much longer process than you had planned.

Do You Need to Renew Your Passport?

If you have had already had a passport and to do perform a passport renewal, the process is different than the first time setup.  Click here to learn how to do a passport renewal >>

Before we get to the important steps of how you get a passport, it’s important to review a few things first.  If you fall into any of these categories, please follow the link to get special information regarding your situation:

The other important thing to know is that if you must apply for your passport in person if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • You are applying for your first U.S. passport
  • You are under age 16
  • Your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under age 16
  • Your previous U.S. passport was lost, stolen, or damaged
  • Your previous U.S. passport was issued more than 15 years ago
  • Your name has changed since your U.S. passport was issued and you are unable to legally document your name change

If you do not have any special conditions, and do not have to apply in person, and you are wondering how do I get a passport, follow these seven steps, and you can begin the process of getting your passport.

1. Fill Out Form DS-11: Application For A U.S. Passport

Click here to fill out Form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport. You may do this online or by hand.  Please note that you:

  • Must not sign the application until instructed to do so by the Acceptance Agent.
  • Must provide your Social Security Number and all other pertinent information.  Failure to provide all information requested on the form will most likely result in processing delays and may also cause the denial of your application.

2. Submit Form DS-11: Application For A U.S. Passport In Person

You must submit Form DS-11 in person at an Acceptance Facility or Passport Agency

Please note that there are special submission requirements for All Minors Under Age 16

3. Submit Proof of U.S. Citizenship

When applying for a U.S. passport in person, evidence of U.S. citizenship must be submitted with Form DS-11. Don’t worry, all documentation that you submit as citizenship evidence will be returned to you. If you are expecting your passport by mail, these documents will be delivered in the same package as your newly issued U.S. passport or in a separate mailing.

4. Present Identification

When you are applying for a U.S. passport in person, you must present a form of acceptable identification at the time of application. A driver’s license or previously issued, undamaged passport will work just fine.

5. Submit a Photocopy of the Identification Document(s) (These are the documents from Step 4)

Make a photocopy of the front and back of each ID document that you will present when you apply. They may be a little sticky about the formalities of how this looks so make sure to follow these rules with your photocopies:

  • Photocopy must be on plain white, 8 1/2 x 11″ standard paper stock, showing the front and the back of your ID
  • Photocopy must contain images on only one-side of each page submitted.
  • Don’t write or mark on the paper. It must be free of other images and/or markings.
  • The 8 1/2 x 11″ paper size cannot be substituted with a larger or smaller size paper, even if the alternative folds down to the 8 1/2 x 11″ size.
  • You may enlarge the image of your ID on the 8 1/2 x 11″ page, but you may not decrease the size of the image.

6. Pay the Applicable Fee

7.Provide One Passport Photo

To avoid processing delays, be sure your photo meets all the requirements and are properly submitted with your application. When submitting Form DS-11 in person, your photo should not be attached to the form. Leave it unattached and they will take care of it for you.

If you follow all of these steps, you shouldn’t have to wonder, “How do I get a Passport” any longer.