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How to Apply for Your First U.S. Passport

Trying to comply with all of the federal government’s passport requirements can be stressful and confusing, especially while preparing to travel internationally. LegalNature helps make this process easier by managing your passport application for you, ensuring it gets processed smoothly and without costly delays. Simply complete our short questionnaire, and we take it from there! The information in this article provides an overview of what is involved.

Please note that if you use our passport services, you will not be required to learn the ins and outs of the application process outlined below since we handle most of this for you.

1. Complete Our Short Questionnaire

You will begin the process by completing our questionnaire according to the instructions provided. In order to receive your passport, your application needs to meet the specific requirements mandated by the U.S. Department of State. This includes answering all questions accurately and according to the instructions. Skipping questions or providing incorrect information will likely mean that your application will be rejected.

2. Provide the Required Documents

When applying for your first passport, you will need to include the following documents:

  • Proof of identity AND a photocopy – Present a driver’s license (not temporary or learner’s permit), a previous U.S. passport book, a previous U.S. passport card, a Certificate of Naturalization, a Certificate of Citizenship, military identification, or a government identification card. Also include a photocopy of the front and back of your proof of identity.
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship document AND a photocopy – Applicants born in the U.S. must present a U.S. birth certificate or a previous U.S. passport (if you are renewing your passport). This evidence must be an original or certified copy. If you do not have a birth certificate or your certificate was filed more than one year after your birth, then you must submit a registrar’s notice confirming that your birth certificate does not exist and provide evidence of your given name and surname, date of birth, place of birth, official seal (if applicable), and official signature. Applicants who were not born in the U.S. must include a previous U.S. passport, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship, or Consular Report of Birth Abroad. If you claim citizenship through the naturalization of your parents, birth abroad to a U.S. parent, or adoption by a U.S. parent, then submit evidence as specified on the Department of State form DS-11. Also include a photocopy of the front and back of your proof of citizenship.

3. Take Your Passport Photo

You must include a photograph of yourself that meets the following basic requirements:

  • It is in color, clear with high resolution, and with a full front view of your face.
  • It is 2x2 inches in size. The image size measured from the bottom of your chin to the top of your head (including hair) should not be less than 1 inch, and not more than 1 3/8 inches.
  • There may be no shadows on the face or background.
  • It must be printed on photo quality paper with a plain light (white or off-white) background.
  • It only includes yourself in normal attire (no costumes or uniforms) and with no other people.

Do not staple or attach the photo to the form before submitting it. See Photo Requirements for additional specifications.

4. Pay the Government Fees

Adults must include a fee of $110 for the passport book and $35 for an acceptance fee. Adults may also choose to receive a passport card for $30. Child applicants under 16 years old are charged a $80 fee for the passport book, a $35 acceptance fee, and an optional $15 if they also want a passport card. Fees for changing your name on your passport or expedited services vary depending on your needs. Checks must state your full name and date of birth at the top and be made out to the “U.S. Department of State.”

5. Submit and Track the Application Status

First-time applicants must apply in person at a passport acceptance facility or passport agency. Applicants outside of the U.S. should contact their U.S. Embassy and Consulate for instructions on submitting their application.

Review the status of your application in your LegalNature account and contact your designated Passport Specialist with any questions. We will contact you with any updates or if there is a problem with your application.