Traveling Without A Passport
Applying For A Passport
Step 1: Start Early - Gather Documents
Apply for your passport several months before your trip. First-time applicants, minors, and applicants who may not renew by mail may submit their passport application at the Post Office. The U.S. State Department website explains what you'll need to bring with you.
Application forms (unsigned)
Proof of identity document and a photocopy of the front and back
Proof of U.S. Citizenship document and a photocopy of the front and back
Closed Loop Cruise
(Cruises that start and end in the same U.S. destination)
U.S. citizens who board cruise ships at U.S. ports, travel only in the Western Hemisphere, then return to the same port may present a government issued ID, such as a driver's license, to prove identification, accompanied by an original certified birth certificate to prove citizenship. Understand that cruises that include destinations outside of the U.S. that are not U.S. territories, may stop at countries that require you to present a U.S. passport to enter, so you could end up spending time on the ship when everyone else is enjoying the destination port city. Also, some cruises may not let you board without a U.S. passport, so be sure to check with the cruise line before booking those tickets.
Situated two and a half hours from Miami in a pocket of water between the Atlantic and the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is a U.S. island territory. Influences of Africa, Spain, Latin America and the U.S. collide in the culture of this small chain of islands. Visit the mountainous interior, tropical rain forests and southern beaches to stare into the Caribbean waters and forget the mainland.
U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands, which include St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John, were acquired by the U.S. as territories in 1917 after hundreds of years of Danish rule. The history of the islands includes indigenous Indians, Europeans settlers and African slaves and traders in the islands' complicated past. Enjoy all that the islands have to offer by learning their history as well swimming, diving and enjoying the weather.
Northern Mariana Islands
The Micronesian islands of the Northern Marianas are another group of Pacific territories open to U.S. citizens without passports. Enjoy cultural dance, music and food while relaxing on the tropical beaches. For a bit more adventure, scuba dive for ocean life, coral reefs or World War Two shipwrecks off the coast.
The six Polynesian islands in the heart of the South Pacific that make up American Samoa are another tropical territory of the U.S. Far from the borders of the American mainland, tourists seeking some peace and respite from the more obvious beach getaways will find island life in these tropical islands refreshing. Discover the jungle or just hang out at the beach and leave the working world behind.
The only tropical islands to receive full U.S. statehood, Hawaii has glistening beaches, snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, active and dormant volcanoes and warm, sunny days all year round. The Pacific island chain is more than five hours from the U.S. mainland when flying from Los Angeles.
According to USA Today, if you do not have a passport, that does not mean you must let the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative scare you away from Bermuda, Jamaica, the Bahamas and other small Caribbean nations. While all air passengers must use a passport to return to the U.S. from these countries, if you are traveling by land or by sea, a passport card or enhanced driver's license will also gain you passage back into the U.S. A passport card, a wallet-sized government issued photo I.D., is good for international land and sea travel in North America. It is cheaper than applying for a passport book and will allow you to travel to even more warm, sunny islands.
Step 2: Prepare Your Application Package
Visit the U.S. Department of State website to learn how to apply for a passport and what documents you need.
Complete your Form DS-11 Application for U.S. Passport on the State Department website.
Print your completed application.
DO NOT SIGN YOUR APPLICATION. A Postal employee must witness your signature.
Have a passport photo taken.
NOTE: Many Post Offices with passport services can also take your photo. Call to confirm your Post Office takes photos.
Photocopy your proof of identity and U.S. Citizenship documents.
Calculate your fees.
Post Offices accept credit cards, checks, and money orders for Post Office acceptance fees.
State Department fees are mailed with your application. You can pay with a personal, certified, cashier's, traveler's check, or money order, payable to "U.S. Department of State."
You must provide one photo with your passport application. We suggest you going to a location that specializes in passport photos as they can ensure your photo meets the criterion for an acceptable passport photo. Before going, however, you should be aware of some definite no-nos, we provided a few below to make sure you arrive at the passport photo facility ready, but a complete list of passport photo guidelines can be found by clicking here.
You cannot wear glasses.
If you cannot remove your glasses for medical reasons, please include a signed note from your doctor with application.
Taken in clothing normally worn on a daily basis. You cannot wear a uniform, clothing that looks like a uniform, or camouflage attire.
You cannot wear a hat or head covering without a signed statement that verifies that the hat or head covering in your photo is part of traditional religious attire worn continuously in public or a signed doctor's statement verifying the hat or head covering in your photo is used daily for medical purposes. Your full face must be visible and your hat or head covering cannot obscure your hairline or cast shadows on your face.
You cannot wear headphones or wireless hands-free devices.You can wear jewelry and keep on your facial piercings as long as they do not hide your face. Permanent tattoos are acceptable for passport purposes as well.
First-time passport applications have two types of basic fees, the application acceptance fee and the application processing fee (also known as the execution fee). Please note you may NOT pay State Department fees with credit or debit cards. You MUST pay with a personal certified, cashiers, or traveler's check, payable to "U.S. Department of State."
PROCESSING | EXECUTION FEE
An acceptance agent is an authorized individual (usually a government employee or US Postal Service employee) that will witness your signature on certain types of passport applications, verify that your documents are in order, and seal the documents for submission to the passport agency. The fee for all acceptance agent services is $35.
PASSPORT APPLICATION FEE
Passport book application fees will vary depending on whether the applicant is an adult or child. For adult applicants the passport fee is $110, for child applicants the passport fee is $80. All passport fees are paid by check or money order made payable to “US Department of State”. The cost for passport cards is either $15 or $30 again dependent on whether the applicant is a child or an adult. Name change fees can range from $0-$165
CAN I GET A PASSPORT FREE?
Usually no. However you might want to try contacting your local congressperson, they do have the authority to grant free passports through a special issuance office.
The passport application fee and the execution fee are non-refundable. They are collected and retained by law even if a passport is not issued. To find out if you may be eligible for a refund of the expedite fee visit our refund page.
Need a Passport in a Hurry?
Leaving Within 2-3 Weeks
To get a new passport application processed within 2–3 weeks, submit your application at a passport acceptance Post Office and pay for expedited processing and 1–2 day delivery service for faster return shipping.
Prepare your application package as listed in Step 2: Prepare Your Application Package.
Add the expedited processing fee of $60, payable to the U.S. Department of State, to your other fees.
USPS mails your application package to the State Department for processing. You can purchase Priority Mail Express® to expedite delivery. Cost varies by location.
Purchase the 1–2 day delivery service for $16.48, payable to the U.S. Department of State for faster return shipping.
NOTE: If you are traveling within 2 weeks or need a foreign visa within 30 days, you must apply at a Department of State passport agency. You can make an appointment online or call 1-877-487-2778 (1-888-874-7793 TDD/TTY).
Submit Online Form
DS-5504: Application for a U.S. Passport - Name Change, Data Correction, and Limited Passport Replacement
DS-60: Affadavit Regarding a Change of Name
Some locations require an appointment.
Many Post Offices require an appointment. Use the Find USPS Locations tool to find the nearest Post Office offering passport services.
Go to Find USPS Locations.
The Department of State offers many locations. You may also wish to schedule an appointment.
Visit the Online Passport Appointment System.
Miami Passport Agency Miami, FL
Minneapolis Passport Agency
National Passport Center
New Orleans Passport Center
New Orleans, LA
New York Passport Agency
New York, NY
Philadelphia Passport Agency
San Diego Passport Agency
San Diego, CA
San Francisco Passport Agency
San Francisco, CA
San Juan Passport Agency
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Seattle Passport Agency
Vermont Passport Agency
St. Albans, VT
Washington Passport Agency
Western Passport Center
Arkansas Passport Center
Hot Springs, AR
Atlanta Passport Agency
Boston Passport Agency
Buffalo Passport Agency
Chicago Passport Agency
Colorado Passport Agency
Connecticut Passport Agency
Dallas Passport Agency
Detroit Passport Agency
El Paso Passport Agency
El Paso, TX
Honolulu Passport Agency
Houston Passport Agency
Los Angeles Passport Agency
Los Angeles, CA
Check Your Application Status
You can check your application processing status on the Department of State website 7-10 business days after you submitted your passport application.