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A U.S. passport is one of the strongest passports in the world, and the process of getting one is not all that complicated. Fees and wait times aside, there is a checklist that one needs to go through in order to apply for one, lest they're unable to leave the country. Additionally, passports do expire at some point in time - so passport renewal is often one of the most frequently asked about topics regarding international travel.

So, what other frequently asked questions do travelers have regarding acquiring a U.S. passport? As the world is reopening again and Americans are looking to explore other countries, a passport once holds more significance than it did two years ago. When it comes to how to get one, how much passport fees are, how long it takes to receive it, and how it can be used, we've got the answers.

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What Is The Application Process Like For Acquiring A U.S. Passport?

When it comes to applying for a U.S. passport, the process is not always as simple as simply filling out an application and enclosing the required fees. According to the U.S. Department of State, some people are required to fill out their passport forms in person. These instances include:

  • Those who are applying for their first-ever U.S. passport
  • Anyone who is under the age of 16
  • Anyone who has had a previous passport issued while under the age of 16
  • If a previous passport was lost, damaged, or stolen
  • If the first passport was issued more than 15 years prior

For those who aren't in a situation listed here, then a passport renewal via the DS-82 form could be a possibility. If a person is in one of the situations listed above, then they'll be required to fill out the DS-11 form in person, which requires a social security card, as well as a signature confirmed by the acceptance agent present at the time. Along with this, those applying for a passport will also need to provide proof of U.S. citizenship, a photo ID, a photocopy of their ID, and a photo of themselves. After all of this has been accepted and filed, applicants will be able to follow the status of their passport, as well as pay the fees in order to obtain it.

Related: What You Need To Know About Traveling In Europe With An American Passport

How Much Does It Cost To Get A U.S. Passport?

Of course, there are fees associated with a passport. While the Department of State travel site has a fee calculator to help travelers determine their total by the end of the application, here are the basics.

Applying For _____ Form to Use Application Fee Acceptance Fee
First-Time Adult Passport Book DS-11 $130 $35
First-Time Adult Passport Card DS-11 $30 $35
First-Time Adult Passport Book & Card DS-11 $160 $35
Adult Passport Card (*for those already in possession of a passport book) DS-82 $30 No charge
Adult Passport Book Renewal DS-82 $130 No fee
Adult Passport Card Renewal DS-82 $30 No fee
Adult Passport Book & Card Renewal DS-82 $160 No fee
Minor Passport Book DS-11 $100 $35
Minor Passport card DS-11 $15 $35
Minor Passport Book & Card DS-11 $115 $35
Expedition Fee N/A N/A $60
1-2 Day Delivery Fee N/A N/A $18.32
File Search Fee N/A/ N/A $150

How Long Does It Take To Receive A U.S. Passport?

Getting a passport by mail does take some time, hence why travelers are able to pay fees to expedite their passports, as well as fees for 1-2 day delivery. Those who do not have a time restraint when it comes to when they receive their passport can expect to have it in 8-11 weeks. Those who pay to have their passports expedited can expect to have it within 5 to 7 weeks.

Those applying for a passport should be aware that their processing time begins from the day that the agency center receives their application. Therefore, several days to a week should also be factored into the wait time for a passport, since applications must pass through the postal service before arriving at the desk of an agent to be processed.

For those who are eligible to submit their applications via mail, it's recommended to use USPS Priority Mail Express and pay the extra $18.32. This ensures a maximum delivery time of two days when receiving one's passport, thus preventing any potential delays several months from the completion of the application process. Additional things that will ensure the process goes smoothly are:

  • Double-check that all information has been filled out accurately and correctly.
  • Make sure that the photo ID used is clear and easy to make out.
  • Be sure to follow the checklist for a good photo that can be used on the passport.

Those needing a passport can apply in person at any passport agency center near them or may mail their application and supporting documents in if they meet the eligibility requirements as defined by the checklist.