Getting a passport for the first time is an important process that requires additional verification and security versus simply renewing a passport. You will have to prove your identity, age, and U.S. citizenship or residency, which means providing a certified copy of your birth certificate, your existing photo ID, and other documentation depending on your age, place of birth, and residential condition.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of applying for your passport for the first time, including which documents you need to provide and where to get them.
Which Documents Do You Need to Apply for a Passport for the First Time
Applying for your first passport means verifying your identity, your age, and your U.S. citizenship. If you’re a minor, you’ll also have to verify the identity of your parents. In most cases, you’ll need basic vital records including:
- A certified copy of your birth certificate or naturalization certification
- A Photo ID such as a state-issued ID
Applying for Your First Passport
In addition to a copy of your birth certificate and identifying ID, you’ll need to fill out Form DS-11 and sign it in front of a notary, typically at your local passport office or post office. You can also fill out the online Passport Wizard and print the results.
You’ll have to include:
- A recent color photograph taken at an approved location, typically the passport office
- A personal check or money order paying the fee (typically from $130)
- Your proofs of identity including birth certificate, photocopy of your ID, and signed and notarized forms.
In most cases, your request for a new passport will take 6 weeks. You can expedite the process for an additional fee. If your name has changed since the issuance of your birth certificate, you will have to bring other certified vital records such as your marriage license or court order.
You can make an appointment with your local passport agency here
Applying for a Passport for a Minor or Child
If your child is under 17 years old, you will have to apply for a passport for them. This is a relatively simple process providing you have access to a copy of their birth certificate and yours and can prove relation.
- Proof of child’s U.S. citizenship such as a copy of birth certificate or naturalization papers/adoption papers
- Evidence of relationship to parents (U.S. birth certificate, court order, or adoption papers)
- Original government issued ID for both parents/guardians or a notarized DS-3053 form, form DS-5525, or death certificate for any non-present parents/guardians
Can I Apply for My First Passport from Outside the United States?
If you were born outside of the United States and do not yet have a passport, you can apply through your local consulate or embassy. This will require additional documentation, including your Consular Report of Birth Abroad, the foreign-born equivalent of a birth certificate, which you can obtain through the Department of State or your local embassy.
- Make an appointment with your local embassy or consulate
- Bring a copy of your Consular Report of Birth Abroad, Certificate of Naturalization, Adoption Paperwork, or Certificate of Citizenship
What Happens if I Don’t Have Identifying Documents?
If you don’t have a copy of your birth certificate or a photo ID, you will typically have to acquire them before applying for a passport. You can order a replacement copy of your birth certificate online at VitalRecordsOnline to process your request as quickly as possible and to ensure that you get your copy of your birth certificate on time to get your passport. You will have to be at least 21 to order your replacement birth certificate online. You will also need a copy of your photo ID. Otherwise, you should request that your parents or guardians submit the birth certificate replacement form for you. They will need a copy of their photo ID to submit the request.
If you don’t have a valid government issued photo ID, you should attempt to obtain one as quickly as possible. This typically means bringing your certificate of birth, social security number, and proof of residence when applying for a state ID. In some cases, other vital records such as hospital birth records, baptism certificates, U.S. census records, early school records, and doctor’s records may be sufficient.