If you are a U.S. citizen and plan to travel abroad, you will need a passport issued by the State Department. Here is some information to get you started:
Current Processing Time
As of July 2010, the Department of State is processing routine applications approximately 4-6 weeks from the time the application is received. Expedited service takes about 2-3 weeks. For updates on current processing times, please visit the State Department's travel website.
To obtain a passport for the first time, you must go in person to one of 7,000 passport acceptance facilities located in the United States. Locate a local facility through the U.S. Department of State Passport Acceptance Facility search page.
You will need to bring:
- two photographs of yourself (most facilities can do this for you for a fee)
- proof of citizenship (usually a certified birth certificate)
- a valid form of photo identification such as a driver’s license (a back and front copy)
You can renew by mail if:
- your most recent passport is not damaged and is available to submit
- 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 download a passport renewal application from the U.S. Department of State Passports Home Page. If your passport has been altered or damaged, you must apply in person. For a renewal, you will need 2 new passport photos to submit.
Current passport fees (as of July 2010):
For the most up-to-date fee information, please visit the State Department's website.
Obviously, there are exceptions and many details and intricacies of the system. The Department of State's website has a wealth of information. If that doesn’t answer your question, feel free to call one of our two state offices -- Wilmington: (302) 573-6347 or Dover (302)736-5601 and ask to speak with the staffer who handles passports.