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Getting a US Passport

A passport, an internationally recognized travel document, verifies the identity and nationality of the person holding it. A valid US passport is needed to enter and leave most foreign countries. The US Department of State is the sole authority that grants, issues, or verifies US passports.

If you are 16 years old or older when the passport is issued, the passport is valid for 10 years. Whereas if you are 15 years old or younger when the passport is issued, the passport is valid only for 5 years.

You can apply for a passport at over 9,000 facilities available nationwide and these include many Federal, state, and probate courts, post offices, a few public libraries, county and municipal offices.

For urgent cases, there are 13 additional regional passport agencies and one Gateway City Agency designated to serve individuals traveling within 14 days, or who need foreign visas for travel. In such cases, appointments are required.

First time applicants have to apply for their US passport in person.

You also must apply in person if:

  • your passport expired and is not in your possession
  • your passport expired and was issued more than 15 years ago
  • your previous passport was issued when you were under the age of 16
  • you have a current US passport and that is lost or stolen

In addition, applicants under the age of 14 should appear in person, and be able to provide legal consent of their parents or legal guardians. The minor must either be accompanied by both the guardians, or one guardian who can provide the other guardian’s notarized statement of consent, or one guardian who can submit evidence of sole authority to apply.

Application for Passport In Person

You must use form DS-11 if:

  • you have never had a US passport
  • you are under age 16
  • your most recent passport was issued more than 15 years ago
  • your most recent passport was lost or stolen

Form DS-82, Application for Passport By Mail is used to renew a previously issued US passport by mail at anytime OR in person at a Regional Passport Agency if you are traveling internationally, or need your passport for foreign visas within 14 days.

How to Replace a Lost or Stolen US Passport

It is very important to report a lost or stolen passport as soon as possible. You should report it before you can apply for a new one. To do this, you have to fill out form DS-64, Statement Regarding Lost or Stolen Passport. Submitting this form will result in the invalidation of your passport, making it unusable for travel. Once a passport is reported lost or stolen, it cannot be re-validated.

You must also fill out a new passport application. Complete form DS-11, Application for Passport as you would if you were applying for a new passport. Form DS-64 should be submitted along with the DS-11 and brought with you when you go in person to apply for a new passport if your previous passport has been lost or stolen.

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