US Passport Questions
Get help with your US passport. Below we list common passport questions and answers. If you still cannot find passport help, we recommend you contact a passport office location for further assistance.
You can also try the Search Website form on the right-hand side to search the entire website for answers to your question. Please review the passport frequently asked questions below.
- General Questions
- Children under 16
- Social Security Number
- Passport Card
- Birth Documentation and Copies of Passport Records
- Passport Photo Requirements
How much does a U.S. passport cost?
Determing the cost of a US passport will be determined by the type of passport you are requesting and how quickly you need it. For a list of fees view the fees to get a passport page.
I need to get a passport soon for travel. How can I get one quickly?
If you are traveling soon and need to get a passport quickly, view how to get passport in a hurry.
Who should have a valid US passport?
The following US citizens are recommended to get a valid US passport:
- Those with family living or traveling abroad
- Those thinking about a vacation abroad, or
- Those with a job that could require international travel
Do I get my old passport back after I renew it?
Yes, in most cases, they will return the old, cancelled passport to you. It may be sent separately from your new passport. It is a good idea to keep your old passport in a safe place as it is considered proof of your US citizenship.
How to change name on passport after marriage/divorce?
If it has been within a year since your passport was issued, then you will need to complete Form DS-5504. There are no fees to get this done.
If it has been more than a year since your passport was issued, you must submit Form DS-82. You will need to pay all required fees for renewing a passport. For more information, please review how to change or correct a passport.
Why is there an execution fee for the passport/card?
The execution fee applies to first-time applicants, children, and those replacing a lost, stolen, or damaged passport who must appear in person before an agent authorized by the Secretary of State to give oaths to verify passport applications.
In order to offer American citizens convenient locations to apply for a passport, the Department of State authorizes Passport Acceptance Agents to accept passport applications on its behalf.
The execution fee is to reimburse the acceptance facility for the cost of the service provided to the customer and to serve as an incentive for participation in the Passport Application Acceptance Program.
When applying for both the passport book and card on the same application, you pay only one execution fee. The execution fee does not apply to adult passport book or card renewals when submitting Form DS-82.
Passport was mailed to me, but I still haven't received it. What next?
Contact the National Passport Information Center. A Customer Service Representative will confirm the date your passport was mailed to you, the address to which it was mailed and, if necessary, help you to report the non-receipt of your passport.
You have 90 days from the date your passport was issued to report that you have not yet received it in the mail. If you do not report the non-receipt of your passport within 90 days of the issue date, you will be required to re-apply and submit the full passport fee.
How long does it take to get a passport?
The time it takes to get a US passport can vary. It will depend on the current time of year, any unforseen circumstances such as natural distasters. When it is during busy times, for example summer travel season, customers are encouraged to use the expedite services if they plan to travel in less than 6 weeks. View the passport processing times page for additional information.
I found a passport. What should I do with it?
Please mail the found passport in a sturdy envelope, to:
US Department of State
1150 Passport Services PL
Dulles, VA 20189-1150
My passport has been damaged. Can I still use it?
If the passport has been damaged a lot, especially if the book cover or the page displaying your personal data and photo is damaged, you will then need to apply for a new passport. Some examples of reasons to replace your passports are:
- Water damage
- A significant tear
- Unofficial markings on the data page
- Missing visa pages (torn out)
- A hole punch, or
- Other injuries
You do not need to replace your passport under normal wear and tear, as that is expected. For example, if the passport was bent after being carried in your back pocket or fanning of the visa pages after opening and closing it many times. If you do play to replace your damaged passport, you will then be required to submit the following in person:
- The damaged passport
- A signed statement explaining the damaged or mutilated condition of your passport book and/or card
- Form DS-11, and
- All documents required by Form DS-11, including citizenship documentation (i.e., birth certificate)
Can I pay for my pasport online?
No, the Department of State does not currently have the option to pay online for passport services, although this service may be offered in the future.
Do I need to update my passport for address changes?
If your address has changed while your passport application is being process, then you should contact the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778 to notify them. If you already have your passport and your address has changed, then you do not need to contact them to update it.
I received a letter in the mail about my application? What do I do?
If you do receive a letter in the mail pertaining to your passport application, it is because they need additional information. In the letter they will provide specific instructions for your case that you will need to follow.
If you are having a hard time following the instructions, then please check out the respond to a letter or email page for additional information. It may be able to help you.
Will I get my new passport and documents back in an envelope?
Passport Book Only
You could receive your new passport and citizenship documents in two seperate mailings. If you have not received your second mailing within 10 business days of receiving your first, please contact the National Passport Information Center. They will be able to send your passport book through a 1-2 day delivery service.
Passport Card Only
You could receive your new passport card and citizenship documents in two seperate mailings. If you have not received your second mailing within 10 business days of receiving your first, please contact the National Passport Information Center. They will only be able to send your passport card through First Class mail.
Passport Book and Card
In this case, you may receive three seperate mailings. One that will contain your citizen documents, one with your new passport book and one with your new passport card. Please contact the National Passport Information Center if you did not receive your second or third mailing within 10 business days of the previous mailing.
How many blank visa pages do I need to travel?
For some countries you will need two to four blank visa/stamp pages in your passport. Some airlines wont even allow you to board if this requirement is not met.
How long is a passport good for and does it need 6 months of validity?
Children ages 16 and up
Passports are valid for 10 years from the date it was issued
Children ages 16 and under
Passports are valid for 5 years from the date it was issued
To find the date of when your passport was issued to you, look on the data page of your Passport Book or on the front of your Passport Card.
For some countries, they will require that your passport be valid for at least six months beyond the dates of your travel. Some airlines will not allow you to board if this is not met. If your passport has already expired, you may still be able to renew your passport by mail. View how to renew your passport for more information.
Can I get extra visa pages for my passport?
No, you are not able to get extra visa pages. If you need additional pages in your valid passport, then you must obtain a new passport by mail. For applicants in the United States, you are able to choose from a 28 page or 52 page book.
Can I use a passport to fly domestically?
Yes, a US passport book and card are both Real ID compliant. This allows them to be used for domestic air travel.
How do I renew my child's passport?
You are not able to renew your child's passport. If your child is under age 16, he or she must appear in person with you and the child's other parent or guardian to apply. A child's application must be submitted in person at a passport agency or authorized passport application acceptance facility. It cannot be renewed by mail. View passports for children under 16 for more information.
Do I need to update my child's passport for address change?
If the address has changed while the child's passport is currently being processed, then you will need to contact the National Passport Information Center. You do not need to contact them if your child's address changed after you received their passport. When completing your child's passport application, they recommend you add your name in the "In Care Of" part of the Mailing Address section on Form DS-11.
Do I need to give my SS Number on my passport application?
Yes. It is required to provide your Social Security number, if you have one, when you apply for a US passport or when renewing one. If you fail to provide the information, you will encounter a delay in processing and/or denial of your passport application.
You will also be subject to a $500 penalty enforced by the IRS pursuant to Section 6039E of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 6039E). All questions on this matter should be directed to the nearest IRS office.
What if I don't have a Social Security number?
If you would like to apply for a US passport, and you don't have a Social Security number, you will need to submit a statement, signed and dated, which includes the phrase, "I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the following is true and correct: I have never been issued a Social Security number by the Social Security Administration."
What if my child doesn't have a SS number yet when applying?
You will need to submit a statement, signed and dated, which includes the phrase, "I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the following is true and correct: (Child's full name) has never been issued a Social Security number by the Social Security Administration."
What is the passport card?
The passport card is the wallet-size travel document that can only be used to re-enter the United States at land border-crossings and sea ports-of-entry from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.
The card provides a less expensive, smaller, and convenient alternative to the passport book for those who travel frequently to these destinations by land or by sea. The passport card cannot be used for international travel by air.
Does the passport card contain an electronic chip?
Yes, the passport card has a vicinity-read radio frequency identification (RFID) chip.
How secure is the card?
The card has state of the art securit features and laser engraving that will minimize the possibility of counterfeiting and forgery. The card is issued with a protective sleeve that prevents the card from being read when not in use.
How do I apply for a passport card?
You use the same form that you would use to apply for a passport book (DS-11 or DS-82). There is a checkbox on the form for you to indicate that you are applying for a passport card. If you already have a passport book and you are eligible to use Form DS-82 (renewal by mail), you may apply for a passport card using DS-82 even if this is your first passport card. Otherwise you will need to use form DS-11 to apply for a passport card.
How much does the passport card cost?
The cost of your US passport will depend on the type of passport you request and how quickly you need it. To view a list of fees view the passport fees page.
How long will it take to receive a passport card?
To find out how long to receive a passport card view the passport processing times page. The processing time for the passport card is the same as for the passport book. Please note: passport cards are sent to you via First Class Mail. They do not send cards using a 1-2 day delivery service.
How many photos are needed for a passport book/card application?
When applying for both a passport book and passport card at the same time, only one photo is required.
What do I do if there is no birth record for me on file anywhere?
If you were born inside the US and there is no birth record on file, then you will need to provide several documents to prove your citizenship. You will need the following:
- A letter of no record issued from the Vital Statistics office of the state of your birth with your name and what years were searched for your birth record
- Early public records to prove your birth in the US
For more information about this, please view the passport citizenship evidence page. If born outside of the US and your parents did not register your birth at the US embassy or consulate, then you may be able to apply for a US passport. You will need:
- Your foreign birth certificate showing both of your parents names
- Evidence of your parent(s) US citizenship and
- Your parents marriage certificate
How do I obtain copies of a previous passport application?
For information on how to obtain copies of your passport records see how to obtain copies of passport records.
What type of paper should I print my photos on?
Photos must be printed on matte or glossy photo quality paper.
Does my photo have to be in color?
Yes, your photo must be in color. A black and white photo will not be accepted.
How recent must my photo have been taken?
Your most recent photo must have been taken weithin 6 months of when you submitted your passport application, and it must reflect your current appearance.
What size must my photo be?
The photo must be exactly 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm).
What pose should I be in for my photo?
You must directly face the camera. Profile shots will not be accepted. Your expression should be neutral with both eyes open and directly facing the camera. Photos with exaggerated expressions and squinting will not be accepted.
Can I wear glasses in the photo?
No, you will need to take them off for your passport photo. If you cannot remove your glasses for medical reasons, you'll need to obtain and submit a signed statement from your doctor and submit it along with your passport application. This includes sunglasses and tinted glasses.
Can I wear a hat or head covering for the photo?
You may wear a hat or head covering, but you must submit a signed statement that verifies that the hat or head covering is part of recognized, traditional religious attire that is customarily or required to be worn continuously in public or a signed doctor's statement verifying the item is used daily for medical purposes. Your full face must be visible and your hat or head covering cannot obscure your hairline or cast shadows on your face.
Can I use a digital camera to take my passport photo?
Yes, a digital camera can be used for your passport photo. However most mobile phones and webcames will not be able to provide images that have the quality to be used as a passport photo.