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Getting a U.S. Passport

13 May 2011

A U.S. Passport is the definitive U.S. identification and necessary for travel outside the U.S. borders, except in some areas where a passport card is adequate.

Passport applicants who must apply in person are those who:

  • are applying for the first time
  • are under age 16 or had a previous passport issued when you were under 16
  • have had a passport that was lost, stolen, or damaged
  • have had a passport that was issued over 15 years ago
  • have had a name change that is not legally documented

Information, including requirements and forms, for first-time passport applicants is available on the U.S. Department of State website. Information about where to apply is also available at the same website.

Renewing your passport?

You can renew by mail if all of these are true about your most recent U.S. passport:

  • it is undamaged and can be submitted with your renewal application
  • it was issued when you were at least 16 years of age
  • it was issued within the last 15 years
  • it was issued in your current name (or you have legal documentation of your name change)

If any of the above is not true, then you must apply in person (see the instructions above on this page).

Instructions to renew your passport by mail are available on the U.S. Department of State website. If you are renewing from outside the U.S. (except Canada), you will have to visit the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Need your passport in a hurry?

Expedited processing services are available if you need to obtain or renew a passport in a hurry, but they aren’t cheap. You can make an appointment to be seen at the regional passport agency nearest you only when:

  • you need a passport within 2 weeks for international travel
  • you need a passport within 4 weeks to obtain a foreign visa

You can review the full information about how to get your passport in a hurry.

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Damian Tysdal
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DamianTysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.