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Frequently Asked Questions About the US Passport

What is a US Passport?

A US passport is an international photo identity travel document which is granted to US citizens and non-US citizens who have become citizens of the United States through naturalization. A US passport holder is allowed to travel outside the United States and will also be protected by the US government while traveling outside the United States. US passports are issued to the US citizens by the US Department of State. A US passport which is issued to an individual is the property of the American government.

Why should I hold a valid US passport?

If you are a US citizen, you can apply for and get a US passport. You must hold a valid US passport while you travel outside the United States and while you re-enter the United States from abroad. You must carry with you this identification document while you travel to foreign countries.

How do I obtain an application for a US passport?

You can download an application for a US passport online. Paper version of the application forms are available in local post offices and municipal offices.

What is the validity period of my US passport?

A US passport is commonly issued with a validity period of ten years. If you were below the age of 15, at the time of obtaining a US passport, your passport will be valid for five years.

When should I file an application to renew my passport?

You must renew your passport nine months before its date of expiration. Make sure that you hold a valid passport while you travel abroad, as many countries require you to travel with a US passport that is valid for at least six months. You can also apply to renew your expired passport by mail.

What to I do if my passport is damaged?

You must apply for a new passport, if your existing passport is damaged. While applying to replace your damaged passport, you must submit your damaged passport, and Form DS-11 along with citizenship documents such as your birth or naturalization certificates.

What is an Electronic or E-Passport?

An E-passport is similar to a traditional passport. It varies from a traditional passport in that its back cover contains a small chip. That integrated circuit contains all the details about the passport holder, displayed on the passport, a biometric identifier, a specific chip identification number and a digital signature.

What is the general processing time for a US passport?

Processing times vary and the routine applications are processed within 4-6 weeks from the date of the application. Requests for expedited services are being processed within 2 -3 weeks. Similarly, the fee also varies based on the type of passport you require.

How do I apply for a name change on my US passport due to marriage or divorce?

To change your name or other data on your passport, you must file Form DS-5504, Application for a US Passport: Name Change, Data Correction, and Limited Passport Book Replacement. You must submit your existing passport, court order to demonstrate your legal name change and a passport photo along with your application.

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