FAQ


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

When processing your U.S. Passport through traditional channels (which is through the mail) it can take anywhere between 4-8 weeks to receive your passport and if you do not receive it within that time frame you will have 90 days from the date of issuance by the department to report that you didn’t receive it in the mail. If you do not report non-receipt of your passport within the 90 days you will be required to reapply and submit the full passport fee. U.S. Certified Passports Online eliminates the need for you to worry about the above circumstances.

The cost of your U.S. passport will depend on the type of passport you request and how quickly you need it. See our Passport Fees and Services for more information on the cost of a U.S. passport book or U.S. passport card.

By utilizing the services of U.S. Certified Passports Online. Process your passport in a hurry here.

Processing times can vary depending on workload and occasional unforeseen circumstances such as natural disasters. During busier times, such as the summer travel season, we encourage customers to expedite their applications if traveling in less than 10 weeks. See Application Processing Times for more information.

Passport Services recommends that the following U.S. citizens maintain valid U.S. passports. Those:

  • with family living or traveling abroad
  • thinking about a vacation abroad, or
  • having a job that may require international travel.
  • In addition to the aforementioned, in the event of an emergency involving a family member abroad, short-notice airfare bargains, or an unexpected business trip, already having a valid U.S. passport will save time, money and stress.

Form instructions can be found on each form or on the following links to access the Form pages:

  • Form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport
  • Form DS-82: Application for a U.S. Passport (Passport Renewals only)
  • Form DS-4085: Application for Additional Visa Pages
  • Form DS-5504: Application for a U.S. Passport - Name Change, Data Correction
  • Form DS-64: Statement Regarding Lost or Stolen Passport
  • Form DS-3053: Statement of Consent - Issuing a Passport to a Minor Under Age 16

Some countries require your passport to have at least two (2) to four (4) blank visa/stamp pages. Additionally, some airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement in not met.

  • If you were over age 16 when your passport was issued, your passport is valid for 10 years.
  • If you were age 15 or younger when your passport was issued, your passport is valid for 5 years.
  • The Issue Date of your passport can be found on the data page of your Passport Book or on the front of your Passport Card.
  • If possible, you should renew your passport approximately nine (9) months before it expires as some countries require that your passport be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the dates of your trip. Additionally, some airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement is not met.

Yes, your old passport is returned to you. Although it’s now cancelled it may be a good idea for you to keep it in a safe place as it is still considered proof of your U.S. citizenship.

You will need to complete Form DS-5504: Application for a U.S. Passport: Name Change, Data Correction, and Limited Passport Book Replacement, within one year of the issuance date of your current valid passport and submit along with the following:

  • The same data (information) visually displayed on the data (front) page of the passport;
  • The passport to be replaced (current valid passport)
  • Certified documentation of your name change (e.g., marriage certificate, divorce decree with your new name); and
  • One recent passport photo (preferably two).
  • After one year from the issuance date of your passport you must submit Form DS-82: Application for Passport Renewal, along with your current passport, certified documentation of your name change, one recent passport photo (preferably two), and pay all applicable fees.
  • Failure to provide your Social Security Number may result in significant processing delays and or the denial of your application.
  • Section 6039E of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 6039E) requires you to provide your Social Security Number (SSN), if you have one, when you apply for a U.S. passport or renewal of a U.S. passport. If you have not been issued a SSN, enter zeros in box #5 of the passport application form you are completing. Contact the Social Security Administration to request a Number. If you are residing abroad, you must also provide the name of the foreign country in which you are residing. The U.S. Department of State must provide your SSN and foreign residence information to the Department of Treasury. If you fail to provide the information, you are subject to a penalty enforced by the IRS. All questions on this matter should be directed to your nearest IRS office.

Please mail found passport, using a sturdy and waterproof envelope to:
U.S. Department of State Passport Services
Consular Lost / Stolen Passport Section
1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036

If your passport has been significantly damaged, especially the book cover or the page displaying your personal data and photo, you will need to apply for a new passport. Water damage, a significant tear, unofficial markings on the data page, missing visa pages (torn out), a hole punch and other injuries to the passport book may constitute "damage" requiring the use of Form DS-11. You will need to present the following in person.

  • The damaged passport
  • Form DS-11
  • All documents required by Form DS-11, including citizenship documentation (i.e. birth certificate)
  • Normal wear of a U.S. passport is understandable and likely does not constitute “damage”. For instance, the expected bend of a passport after being carried in your back pocket or fanning of the visa pages after extensive opening and closing. In most cases of normal wear, you may renew your passport by using Form DS-82.
  • Please remember, if you try to renew a significantly damaged passport using Form DS-82, you may be asked by the Passport Agency to apply again using Form DS-11 and incur additional fees.
  • If You Applied for a Passport Book Only: You may receive your newly issued book and your returned citizenship evidence in two separate mailings. If you do not receive a second mailing within 10 business days of receiving the first, please contact your local passport office.
  • If You Applied for a Passport Card Only: You will receive your newly issued passport card and your returned citizenship evidence in two separate mailings. If you do not receive a second mailing within 10 business days of receiving the first, please contact your local passport office.
  • If You Applied for a Passport Book and Card: You may receive three separate mailings; one with your returned citizenship evidence, one with your newly issued passport book, and one with your newly issued passport card. If you do not receive the second or third mailing within 10 business days of the previous mailing, please contact your local passport office.
  • If you process your passport application through the services of U.S. Certified Passports Online it is very likely that you will have your citizenship documents returned to you the same time you receive your new passport book.

The Department of State has developed a Passport Card also referred to as the PASS card as a more portable and less expensive alternative to the traditional passport book. The passport card is a basic component of the PASS (People Access Security Service) system announced by Secretaries Rice and Chertoff in January 2006, and will meet the specific requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) to secure and expedite travel. WHTI is the Administration's plan to implement a provision of the Intelligence Reform Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which requires citizens of the United States, Canada, and Bermuda to have a passport or other designated document that establishes the bearer's identity and nationality to enter or re-enter the United States from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. According to the Department of Homeland Security, other documents such as registered traveler cards (NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST cards) will be acceptable under WHTI.

  • The execution fee applies to first-time applicants, children and those replacing a lost, stolen or damaged passport who must appear in person before an agent authorized by the Secretary of State to give oaths to verify passport applications. In order to offer American citizens convenient locations to apply for a passport, the Department of State authorizes Passport Acceptance Agents to accept passport applications on its behalf.The execution fee is to reimburse the acceptance facility for the cost of the service provided to the customer and to serve as an incentive for participation in the Passport Application Acceptance Program.
  • When applying for both the passport book and card on the same application, you pay only one execution fee. The execution fee does not apply to adult passport book or card renewals when submitting Form DS-82.

The passport card is designed for the specific needs of border resident communities. It is not a globally facilitated travel document as is the traditional passport book. The passport book is the appropriate travel document for most international travel.

Because the wallet-sized Passport Card does not offer as many opportunities to embed security features as a passport book, the Department has decided to use laser engraving and will include state-of-the-art security features to help act as a deterrent against the possibility of counterfeiting and forgery. The U.S. Government is taking every precaution to ensure that the Passport Card is as secure as current technology permits. There will be no personal information written to the RFID chip.

  • Radio Frequency Identification technology (RFID) has been used successfully along the U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico since 1995 in the Department of Homeland Security's trusted traveler programs, such as NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST. U.S. border officials are able to expedite legitimate cross-border travel and trade trusted travelers who carry membership cards with vicinity read RFID chips that link to government databases. Membership in these programs currently exceeds 400,000
  • The RFID technology embedded in documents will not include any personally identifying information; only a unique number that can be associated with a record stored in a secure government database will be transmitted.

In the space provided for the signature, the mother or father must print the child's name and sign their own name. Then, in parenthesis by the parent's name, write the word (mother) or (father) so the U.S. Passport Agency is made aware as to who signed for the child.

  • Parents involved in international custody disputes may receive information about the United States passport of a minor from the Department of State, Passport Services.
  • For parents seeking passport assistance and information regarding International Child Abduction see Passport Assistance - International Child Abduction.

Effective February 1, 2008, Public Law 106-113, Section 236 requires that U.S. passport applications for children under the age of 16 require both parents' or legal guardians' consent. Please read our Requirement section and our Child Passport Checklist for additional information on the Two-Parent Consent Requirement.

Separate from the Two-Parent Consent requirement for U.S. passport issuance for minors under the age of 14, parents may also request that their children's names be entered in the U.S. passport name-check system. The Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program provides:

  • Notification to parents of passport applications made on behalf of minor children, and
  • Denial of passport issuance if appropriate court orders are on file with CPIAP.
  • For more information, contact the Office of Children's Issues at 1-888-407-4747 or by email at ChildrensPassports@state.gov.

Contact the Vital Statistics office in the state where you were born.

If you were born in the U.S. and there is no birth record on file, you will need several different documents to substantiate your citizenship. You will need:

  • A letter of no record issued from the Vital Statistics office of the state of your birth with your name and what years were searched for your birth record.
  • Early public records to prove your birth in the U.S.

If you were born outside the U.S. and your U.S. parent(s) did not register your birth at the U.S. embassy or consulate, you may apply for a U.S. passport. However you will need:

  • Your foreign birth certificate showing both of your parents' names
  • Evidence of your parent(s) U.S. citizenship and
  • Your parents' marriage certificate.

For information on how to obtain copies of your passport records see Obtain Copies of Passport Records.

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