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Passport Information : Questions and Answer on US Passports


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What is a passport?

A United States passport is an internationally recognized travel document attesting to the identity and nationality of the bearer. It is a request on the part of the issuing government officials of foreign governments permit bearer to travel or sojourn in their territories and to afford them all lawful aid and protection.

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Where do I get a passport application?

- You may download the passport forms from this web site.

- Forms are also available at public offices like Post Offices, courthouses or municipal offices where passport applications are accepted.

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I am traveling very soon. How do I get a passport in a hurry?

We are authorized to expedite passports as fast as in 24 hours. Expediting instructions are found in our passport expediting section.

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I have never had a U.S. passport. How do I get one?

See How to Apply for a New Passport.

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My passport was lost / stolen. How do I get one?

See How to Apply for a Lost / Stolen Passport.

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My child who is under 18 needs a passport. How do I get it?

If your child is: Then....


Under 16

  • Your child must appear in person.
  • Both parents or legal guardians, can apply for your child.
  • Both parents or legal guardians consent is required for minors under age 16.
  • Both parents or legal guardians must show current, valid ID.

Under 17

  • Your child must appear in person.
  • Your parental consent may be requested.

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Is it true that passport applications for minors under 16 require the consent of both parents or legal guardians?

Effective February 1, 2008, 22 C.F.R. 51.1 requires that U.S. passport applications for children under the age of 16 require both parents' or legal guardians' consent. Read more within our child passport application procedures.

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What is the Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP)?

Separate from the Two-Parent Consent requirement for U.S. passport issuance for minors under the age of 16, parents may also request that their children's names be entered in the U.S. passport name-check system. The Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program provides:

  • Notification to parents of passport applications made on behalf of minor children, and
  • Denial of passport issuance if appropriate court orders are on file with CPIAP.

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I was recently married/divorced. How do I change my name on my passport?

You will need to apply to amend your current passport , within one year of the issuance date of your current valid passport and submit along with the following:

  • The passport to be replaced
  • Certified documentation of your name change (e.g., marriage certificate, divorce decree with your new name); and
  • Two recent passport photos.

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I was born abroad. How do I get a birth certificate proving my U.S. citizenship?

If one or both of your parents was a U.S. citizen when you were born abroad, your parent(s) should have registered your birth at a U.S. embassy or consulate, and, received a Consular Report of Birth Abroad , Form FS-240. This form is acceptable legal proof of birth and U.S. citizenship.

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What should I do if my baby is born abroad?

As U.S. citizen parent(s), you should report your child's birth abroad as soon as possible to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to establish an official record of the child's claim to U.S. citizenship at birth. The official record will be the Consular Report of Birth of a Citizen of the United States of America , Form FS-240. This document, know as the Consular Report of Birth Abroad , is a basic United States citizenship document. An original FS-240 document will be given to you at the time registration is approved.

A Consular Report of Birth can only be prepared at a U.S. embassy or consulate. It cannot be prepared if the child has been brought back into the United States, or, if the person is 18 years of age or older at the time the application is made.

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What do I do if there is no birth record on file for me?

If you were born in the U.S. and there is no birth record on file, you will need several different documents to substantiate your citizenship. You will need: A letter from the Vital Statistics office of the state of your birth with your name and what years were searched for your birth record. An official of the Vital Statistics office needs to issue a letter of no record found.
In addition, you will need early public records to prove your birth in the U.S.
If you were born outside the U.S. and your U.S. parent(s) did not register your birth at the U.S. embassy or consulate, you may: Apply for a U.S. passport. You will need:
Your foreign birth certificate that includes your parents' names; and
Evidence of your parent(s) U.S. citizenship; and
Your parents' marriage certificate.

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I'm renewing my passport. Do I get the old one back?

Yes, the Passport Agency will return the old, cancelled passport to you although it may be sent separately from your new passport. It is a good idea to keep it in a safe place as it is considered proof of your U.S. citizenship.

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My child is too young to sign his/her own passport. How do I sign my child's passport?

In the space provided for the signature, the mother or father must print the child's name and sign their own name. Then, in parenthesis by the parent's name, write the word (mother) or (father) so the State Department would know who signed for the child.

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How do I find out about the status of my passport application?

If you applied through us, Passports and Visas.com - then you can check passport status online.

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How do I get a certified copy of my birth certificate?

Contact Vitalchek to expedite a birth certificate.

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How long is a passport valid and when should I renew my passport? If you were ____ when the passport was issued Then your passport is valid

issued
16 or Older - 10 Years
15 or Younger - 5 Years


If possible, you should renew your passport approximately nine (9) months before it expires. Some countries require that your passport be valid at least six (6) months beyond the dates of your trip. Some airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement is not met. If you passport has already expired, you may still be able to renew your passport by mail. See How to renew my passport.

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Who should maintain a valid U.S. passport?

US Passport Services recommends that the following U.S. citizens maintain valid U.S. passports.... Those

  • with family living or traveling abroad
  • thinking about a vacation abroad, or
  • with a job that could require international travel.

In the event of an emergency involving a family member abroad, a short-notice airfare bargain, or an unexpected business trip, already having a valid US passport will save time, money and stress.

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What if there is an error in the passport I just received?

If you just received the passport and have not traveled, contact us immediately. If you have already traveled, submit the following to the State Department:

  • The passport to be replaced;
  • A completed DS-5504, U.S. Passport Re-Application form;
  • Two new photographs; and
  • Evidence to document the correct information, such as a certified birth certificate, previous U.S. passport, certified marriage certificate, or naturalization/citizenship certificate.

Please include your departure date on Form DS-5504. For Routine Service, mail the above to:


National Passport Processing Center
P.O. Box 90107
Philadelphia, PA 19190-0107
For Expedited Service (Additional Fee), mail the above to:


National Passport Processing Center
P.O. Box 90907
Philadelphia, PA 19190-0907

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How many blank visa pages do I need to travel?

US Passport Services recommends that the following U.S. citizens maintain valid U.S. passports.... Those

Some countries require your passport have two (2) to four (4) blank visa/stamp pages. Some airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement in not met. See Add Passport Pages for how to request more visa pages.

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How long does it take to get a passport?

Processing times can vary depending on workload and your needs. See Processing Times for more information.

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Do I have to provide my Social Security Number?

Section 6039E of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 6039E) requires you to provide your Social Security Number (SSN), if you have one, when you apply for a U.S. passport or renewal of a U.S. passport. If you have not been issued a SSN, enter zeros in box #5 of the passport application form you are completing. Contact the Social Security Administration to request a Number. If you are residing abroad, you must also provide the name of the foreign country in which you are residing. The U.S. Department of State must provide your SSN and foreign residence information to the Department of Treasury. If you fail to provide the information, you are subject to a $500 penalty enforced by the IRS. All questions on this matter should be directed to the nearest IRS office.

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