Published Dec 21, 2020

Travelling makes for some of the most beautiful and irreplaceable experiences in our lives. Of course, before packing your bags, picking out your outfits, and taking a ton of pictures for your Instagram feed, you need to secure your passport. The United States offers one of the most powerful passports globally, ranking a joint number 7 with other countries such as Belgium, Switzerland, and Norway. With access to 185 countries, it is definitely worth getting. But the process can be a bit complicated and tedious to some. So, who can get a passport? How and where do you get it? How long does it take to get one? And when should I renew my dated passport? We’ve come up with this article to answer your questions and hopefully soothe all your concerns.

A picture of a passport and an airplane paper beside
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Who can get a U.S. passport?

The following people are eligible to obtain a U.S. passport:

  • U.S. citizen by birth
  • U.S. citizen by naturalization
  • U.S. National

The listed individuals above may be able to apply for either a passport book or a card. The difference between the two is that the former is accepted for all forms of travel, while the latter is generally not applicable for travel by air.

How and where to get a passport?

When applying for a passport, the first thing you should do is to locate the nearest passport acceptance facility. These facilities submit passport applications on behalf of the State Department and usually come in the form of a post office, public library, local government offices, or clerks of court.

However, the new normal with COVID-19 calls for a different process. The Consular Affairs (CA), responsible for issuing passports, highly recommends applying for your passports by mail. This ensures a safe and contactless option for certain services.

If you’re renewing your passport, correcting an error in it, or getting a passport book or card if you already have the other, you can avail of all these services by mail. On the other hand, first-time applicants, children under 16, and those who’ve lost their passports must go through the in-person application.

Applying in person

To apply in person, here’s a list of the things you will need:

  1. Completed DS-11 form
  2. Proof of U.S. Citizenship (e.g., birth certificate, or others)
  3. A legible, black and white copy of your proof of citizenship printed on an 8.5″ by 11″ paper
  4. Present ID and its photocopy (following the same guidelines as previously mentioned)
  5. Passport photo (2×2 inches), pharmacies and post offices offer passport photo services at low costs, saving you from the trouble of taking one for yourself.
  6. Passport fees: first-time passport applicants will typically pay around $145 for their application, but if you want to be sure, here’s a fee calculator.

Before your in-person application, it would be best to contact your local passport acceptance facility to see if they’re open and accepting appointments; some locations will require appointments to ensure social distancing protocols are being met. If you want to apply at a post office, you’ll have to make an appointment on the USPS website.

Renewing a passport

The much more favored and safer option of the two is applying through mail-in services. Here are the requirements for this alternative:

  1. Completed DS-82 form (either through form filler or a manually filled out printed pdf)
  2. Submit your most recent passport (ensure that it is undamaged aside from minor wear and tear)
  3. Regulation passport photo (2×2 inches)
  4. Passport renewal fees (about $110 for a passport book and $30 for a card)

How long does it usually take to get a passport?

After submitting your application, expect a turnaround time of about 10-12 weeks for routine service and 4-6 weeks for expedited service. The expedited service will cost you an extra $60 to process your application quicker than usual.

In some very special cases, you can get your passport even quicker. The first case is if you have a life-or-death emergency, and you need to travel immediately. In this case, you may receive your passport within 72 hours or three business days. The other case is if you have immediate travel plans, that is 2-3 weeks from today. You must have travel documents to prove your claim (for example, airline or cruise tickets).

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Author Terrence Tan Ting

About The Author

 is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.