If you recently became a U.S. citizen, one of the key benefits of naturalization is the ability to obtain a U.S. passport. The U.S. passport is considered one of the most powerful travel documents in the world, as U.S. passport holders can travel to more than 180 locations without requiring a specific visa. If you’re interested in obtaining your first U.S. passport as a naturalized citizen, we’ve put together some helpful information on where and how to apply, the costs associated with the process, and more.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
Applying in the U.S.
Here’s how to complete and file a first-time passport application:
Step 1: Complete Form DS-11
The first step in the passport application process is completing Form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport. Applicants can download and print Form DS-11 or fill in the form online using a form filler.
Step 2: Provide Evidence of U.S. Citizenship
One of the key requirements in obtaining a U.S. passport is submitting primary evidence of U.S. citizenship. If you are a newly naturalized citizen, you may submit your Certificate of Naturalization as proof of citizenship. If you are unable to present your Certificate of Naturalization, you may be able to provide secondary evidence in lieu of naturalization documents. For examples of primary and secondary citizenship evidence, and tips for gathering your documents and obtaining certified copies, please visit the State Department’s Citizenship Evidence site.
Step 3: Present a Valid ID
As part of the application process, you must also present a valid form of legal identification, in addition to a photocopy of the front (and back, if there is printed information) of the ID. Legal IDs such as a state-issued driver’s license or current foreign passport are generally accepted. See the State Department website for a full list of accepted alternative forms of ID.
Step 4: Obtain a Photo
Applicants are required to include one 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) passport photo in their application package. More information on photo requirements and helpful tips for obtaining a proper photo can be found here.
Step 5: Submit Application
If you’re applying for your first U.S. passport, you must apply in person at a passport acceptance facility. Passport acceptance facilities are designated by the U.S. State Department and can include state government offices, public libraries, post offices, and other types of locations. You can search for the nearest passport acceptance facility to you here.
Once you’ve determined your filing location, you must submit your completed Form DS-11, including citizenship evidence documents, a photocopy of your legal ID, passport photo, and required filing fees.
Once you’ve submitted your application in person, you can track your application status online here.
Applying From Outside the U.S.
Applying for a passport from outside the U.S. is a different process than when applying from within the country. U.S. citizens living abroad are generally required to apply for U.S. passports in person at a U.S. Embassy or consulate. Each U.S. Embassy and consulate has its own specific procedures and requirements for passport services. Applicants living outside of the U.S. can check their country of residence’s embassy or consulate webpage for more information.
The fees for obtaining a passport vary depending on your age and whether or not you are a first-time applicant.
For adults (age 16 and older) applying for the first time, there are two fees:
Application Fee: $130
Execution (Acceptance) Fee: $35
For children under 16 applying for the first time, the following fees apply:
Application Fee: $100
Execution (Acceptance) Fee: $35
The State Department website also provides a fee calculator where you can calculate the exact passport fees for your specific situation. Accepted payment methods also vary depending on where you apply, so be sure to check the State Department’s passport information page for more details.
The processing time for a routine passport application is currently 7 to 10 weeks. If you have international travel plans in the near future or require the document sooner, it is possible to apply for an expedited passport for an additional $60 fee. Expedited passport requests generally take between 4 to 6 weeks, and the processing time begins from the moment the government receives your application at a passport agency or center. More information on how to obtain your passport quickly for urgent or emergency travel can be found here.
U.S. passports issued to adults are typically valid for 10 years, while passports issued to children under 16 are valid for 5 years. It is important to be mindful of your passport expiration date and read up on the renewal process before the time comes to obtain an updated passport.
Although the process may vary depending on your specific situation, here are the general steps to renewing a U.S. passport by mail:
Step 1: Complete Passport Renewal Application
The first step to renewing a passport is to file Form DS-82: U.S. Passport Renewal Application for Eligible Individuals. Applicants can complete a paper application to be mailed or complete Form DS-82 online.
Step 2: Include Required Documents
In addition to Form DS-82, applicants must include the following supporting documents in their renewal application:
-Your most recent U.S. passport book and/or card
-Certified copies of legal name change documents, if applicable (if your current name is different from the name on your most recent passport)
-Passport photo which meets photo requirements
Step 3: Submit Filing Fees and Mail Application
Passport renewal fees must be paid via personal check or money order — online payments for passport services are not currently accepted. Applicants must include the check or money order when mailing their completed application, along with the required supporting documents mentioned above. To calculate your renewal fees and check where to mail your completed application package, please visit the State Department’s renewal information page.