A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies the identity and nationality of the bearer. A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave most foreign countries. Only the US Department of State has the authority to grant, issue or verify United States passports.
To obtain a passport for the first time, you need to go in person to one of over 9,000 passport acceptance facilities located throughout the United States with two photographs (want to find place to get best passport photos for lowest rate? Click here) of yourself, proof of US citizenship, and a valid form of photo identification such as a driver's license.
Acceptance facilities include many Federal, state and probate courts, post offices, some public libraries and a number of county and municipal offices. There are also 13 regional passport agencies, and 1 Gateway City Agency, which serve customers who are traveling within 2 weeks (14 days), or who need foreign visas for travel. Appointments are required in such cases.
You'll need to apply in person if you are applying for a US passport for the first time: if your expired US passport is not in your possession; if your previous US passport has expired and was issued more than 15 years ago; if your previous US passport was issued when you were under age 16; or if your currently valid US passport has been lost or stolen.
For more information on getting a new passport, please visit US Passport Service's official How to get a passport page.
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You can renew by mail if: Your most recent passport is available to submit and it is not damaged; you received the passport within the past 15 years; you were over age 16 when it was issued; you still have the same name, or can legally document your name change.
You can get a passport renewal application form by downloading it from this site.
If your passport has been, altered or damaged, you cannot apply by mail. You must apply in person.
For more information on how to renew a passport, please visit US Passport Service's official How to renew a passport page.