If you have never had a passport before, you need to apply for one in person at a passport office. Passport offices are run by the Department of State, and they are often in post offices, civic centers, or government offices. If you are under 16, your last passport was lost or stolen, or if your last passport is more than 15 years old, you also need to apply in person. If you are renewing your passport, you may be able to apply online.

Application Form

To get a passport, you need to fill out passport application form DS-11, but do not sign it until you are in front of the passport agent. Once it is filled out, you need to submit it to the passport office and provide them with proof of your citizenship as well as your identification.

Proof of Citizenship and ID

Any of the following items can be used to prove citizenship:

• Valid US passport
• Birth certificate
• Consular report of birth abroad
• Naturalization certificate
• Certificate of citizenship

Additionally, you need proof of identification such as a passport, a naturalizations certificate, a driver’s license, a government ID, or a military ID. In addition to your originals, you need to bring photocopies of your proof of citizenship and identification. Copies need to be on clean 8 1/2 x 11″ pieces of paper, and images can be enlarged, but they cannot be shrunken.

Passport Photo

You must also provide a photo of yourself to the passport officials. The photo should be a color 2 x 2″ photo, and it can be printed on matte or glossy paper. Make sure that you get your photo from someone who is knowledgeable about passport photo requirements. For example, your head needs to take up 1 3/8″ of the picture.

Do not smile when taking this picture. Your expression needs to be neutral, and your eyes need to be open. Make sure that the picture was taken in the last three months. The state department has an online tool that allows you to crop a photo so that you can use it for your passport.

Final Step

If everything is in order, all you need to do is sign the application, pay your fee, and wait for your new passport to arrive.