*The passport fees have recently changed. As of April 2nd, 2018, the passport acceptance fee has gone up from $25 to $35.
Need to get a passport? Not sure how to get started?
At RushMyPassport, we’ve spent almost a decade making it easier and faster to get a passport for customers around the country. Now, we’re sharing our experience with you!
Are you a total newbie applying for your first-ever passport? A seasoned traveler ready for a passport renewal? Either way, here’s everything you need to know to breeze through getting a passport in 2017.
How to Get a Passport in 2017, Step 1: Gather Your Documents
They don’t just hand out passports to anyone these days. You need the right documents to prove your eligibility. And what you need varies depending on your circumstances.
Here’s the master list.
What You Need for a New Passport
- Proof of citizenship: Your certified birth certificate, naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship. You’ll need to send both the original and a copy. The proof of citizenship will generally be returned in a separate envelope from your passport.
- Proof of identity: A driver’s license or state ID card is the obvious choice, but you can also use the following documents as long as they have your signature and a recognizable picture of you: certificate of naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship, military ID, US passport or passport card or a government employee ID card.
- One passport photo, taken within the past 6 months. See below for more details.
- Form DS-11, available here.
Don’t have a copy of your birth certificate? Can’t make it to the Department of Vital Records where you were born? VitalChek can send it to you quickly.
What You Need for a Passport Renewal
Need to renew your passport? You may be able to renew by mail, as long as all of the following are true:
- You still have your old passport.
- It’s not been damaged.
- You were 16 years of age or older when it was issued.
- It was issued within the last 15 years.
- Your passport was issued in your current name OR you can legally document your name change.
If you answered “No” to even one of those questions, do not pass go. Do not attempt to renew by mail. You’ll use the same form and the same instructions as if you were applying for a new passport.
Note: In addition to the documents listed under “New passport”, you may need a marriage decree, divorce decree or court order if you need to change your name.
Documents Needed to Renew By Mail
If you are eligible to apply by mail, you’ll need:
- Form DS-82, available here.
- One passport photo.
- Your old passport.
- If you’ve changed your name, include your marriage certificate, divorce decree or court order.
Getting a Passport for a Child
Ideally, both parents should appear in person to apply for their children’s passports. Bring the following:
- Proof of citizenship for the child.
- Proof of the parents’ relationship to the child (birth certificate, adoption decree or court order for guardianship). If you have changed your name since this document was issued, bring proof of that as well.
- If only one parent can make it, you need a notarized copy of Form DS-3053 signed by the other parent.
- Is the other parent not available? Bring their death certificate, proof they’ve been declared incompetent, a court order granting one parent sole custody, or a birth certificate or adoption decree with only one parent’s name on it.
- A copy of Form DS-11
Replacing a Lost/Or Stolen Passport
Is your passport lost, stolen or damaged? You’ll need everything listed for a new passport AND a copy of form DS-64 explaining what happened to it.
How to Get a Passport in 2017, Step 2: Get Your Photo Taken
Time to say cheese! Or, maybe not. Smiling for a passport photo is out. Facial recognition software is in.
If your photo doesn’t meet Department of State guidelines, your passport application will be delayed or denied. Here are the rules:
- No selfies. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
- Use a recent photo from within the past six months.
- Photo must be in color, background must be white.
- No uniforms.
- No hats, headphones or head coverings unless they’re needed for religious reasons.
- The photo must be in focus, with no shadows on your face.
- Face forward, and use a ‘neutral’ expression.
New Rule for 2017: Glasses are out, too, even if you normally wear them.
Here’s our guide to taking a passport photo that doesn’t look like a mug shot.
How to Get a Passport in 2017, Step 3: Fill Out Your Application
- If you’re applying by mail, fill the form out completely and legibly, and then sign it.
- If you’re applying in person, fill it out completely and legibly, but DON’T SIGN IT. It must be signed in front of a passport agent.
If you travel frequently, check the box for the larger 52-page passport book. The Department of State no longer allows you to add pages without getting a new passport.
We recommend filling the forms out on your computer and printing them. If this is not possible, use a BLUE or BLACK ink pen. Other colors are not acceptable and will be rejected.
How to Get a Passport in 2017, Step 4: Submit Your Application
Now that you have everything together, it’s time to submit your application. If you’re renewing by mail, just mail it . . . but make sure to request tracking!
If you’re applying in person, you can find the nearest passport acceptance facility here. Some places do require an appointment for passport services, so plan ahead.
Is your local post office always busy? Check with other places nearby that might offer passport services! Here are some examples of unexpected places you might be able to apply for a passport:
- Public Libraries
- Clerks of Court
- Colleges and Universities
- Municipal government buildings
How to Get a Passport in 2017, Step 5: Pay the Fees
Next up: time to pay the fees. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll likely owe:
- Passport books for adults: $135 total ($110 application fee plus a $25 execution fee).
- Adult passport card: $55 total ($30 application fee plus a $25 execution fee).
- Adult passport book and card: $165 total ($140 application fee plus a $25 execution fee).
- Child passport book: $105 total ($80 application fee plus a $25 execution fee)
- Child passport card: $40 total ($15 application fee plus a $25 execution fee).
- Child passport book and card: $115 total ($95 application fee plus a $25 execution fee).
- Passport Renewal by Mail: $110 for the book, $30 for the card and $140 for both.
You can pay the application fee by check, money order, credit card, bank draft or cashier’s check. The execution fee is paid separately, so check and see what payment methods the office will accept.
Other fees: There is a $60 fee to expedite your passport application if you need it in less than six weeks. Priority Mail Express Delivery is $20.66.
Getting a Passport in 2017? Apply Early to Beat The Rush!
The Department of State expects record numbers of passport applications in 2017, which could lead to longer wait times, especially during busy seasons. Save yourself a headache and apply early!
If you’re concerned, you can check their current average processing times here.
Need to Get a Passport in a Hurry?
For an extra $60, you can request expedited service at the post office or by mail. Normally, this will get your passport back in your hands within 2-3 weeks, depending on how busy the passport office is.
If you need it sooner, you have two options: make an appointment at the nearest Regional Passport Agency (see here), or use a third-party expediter like RushMyPassport.
If you aren’t eligible to apply by mail, you’ll still have to go to the post office to get your signature witnessed and your documents “sealed.” But instead of getting your passport back in 2-3 weeks, you can get your application processed in as little as one business day.
If you don’t have a moment to spare and you can’t (or don’t want to) make it to a Passport Agency office, an expediting service can be a lifesaver!
If you’re in a hurry, we can help. Check out our passport services or contact us today!
Photo credits: Some rights reserved by Damian613, Some rights reserved by Tony Webster