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Are you getting ready to enjoy the summer and travel abroad?  You're not alone. According to the U.S. Travel Association, U.S. residents logged 1.7 billion trips for leisure purposes in 2015 and international travel spending directly supported about 1.1 million U.S. jobs and $28.4 billion in wages.

As a U.S citizen, if you're traveling internationally you will need a valid passport as a form of identification. To apply for your US passport these are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Make sure all your documents are in order, such as proof of citizenship (an old passport or a birth certificate) and proof of identity (a driver's license or a state identification).
  2. The second thing you do when applying for a passport is print and fill out Form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport. Then, take your completed form to an Acceptance Facility or Passport Agency.  
  3. Get a passport photo; the process might be delayed if the picture doesn't comply with these requirements.
  4. You may apply for any service (first-time application, renewal, passport card, etc.) at a passport agency.
  5. Where to apply:  It depends on your location,  you can find a post office branch that can process your application or you can mail it. Also, if you are living abroad make sure you check the process to apply outside of the U.S.
  6. Select a passport processing option: the routine processing takes up to 6 weeks. In case that you are traveling sooner than four weeks you can expedite your processing. You need to go down to your nearest regional passport agency with all your documents along with your travel itinerary showing you will be leaving the country within two weeks for emergency travel.
  7. Pay your fees:  the associated costs vary when you are applying for the first time or renewing, make sure you're using this guide and bear in mind that all fees are not refundable.
  8. Are you changing your name or have you lost your old passport? You will need to apply in person if you changed your name since your previous passport; if it has been more than 15 years since your last passport was issued; or if your previous passport was stolen, lost, or damaged.
  9. If you're applying for a child's passport,  remember you will need to submit proof of your relationship (such as a custody order or birth certificate with appropriate signatures). Have your own appropriate ID (plus photocopies of that ID), and provide in-person consent from both parents (or one parent, plus written, notarized consent from the second or proof of sole custody).
  10. Tip: Renew your passport approximately nine months before it expires.


This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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