US Passport definition

A US passport is a travel document issued to citizens and nationals of the United States. US passports, also called American passports, are issued by the U.S. Department of State. American citizens can obtain a passport book or a passport card. They’re both subject to the same requirements.

However, the American passport book can be used to travel internationally while the American passport card can only be used to travel to and from Canada, Bermuda, Mexico and the Caribbean.

To obtain a US passport for the first time it is necessary to provide proof of citizenship, often a birth certificate.

How to get a U.S. passport

American citizens applying for a passport for the first time must complete the DS-11 form, and should submit evidence of U.S. citizenship, often a certified copy of a birth certificate will suffice. To get a US passport, it is also necessary to present an identification document to the acceptance agent. This could be a valid driver’s license, government employee ID, U.S. military or military dependent ID, etc.

Photocopies of the proof of citizenship and the ID of both front and back should be provided when applying for a U.S. passport. A photograph, which should meet specific photo requirements, needs to be provided. The applicant must submit their completed application, including citizenship evidence, photocopy of ID, photo, and fees in person at a passport acceptance facility.

How to renew a U.S. passport

Every U.S. citizen can normally renew their passport, unless:

  • It was issued before their 16th birthday
  • It was issued 15 or more years ago
  • It is damaged, lost, or stolen
  • It was issued in a previous name and the person does not have a legal document to prove the legal name change

To renew the passport outside the United States, U.S. citizens should:

  • Contact their nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate
  • Fill the renewal application form DS-82
  • Provide a recent passport photo with specific passport photo requirements
  • Provide their most recent passport, and in case their name has changed a certified copy of the marriage certificate or a court order of the name change.
  • Pay the respective fees must be paid.

It is recommended to renew the passport about nine months before it expires.

U.S. Passport formats and fees

The U.S. charges 110 USD for a passport book and 30 USD for a passport card. A passport book and card will cost USD 140. The passport card is a wallet-sized travel document. U.S citizens can use the passport card to re-enter the United States at land border-crossings or ports of entry by sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean.

Passport cards cost a lot less than a passport book, but U.S. citizens may not use them for international air travel.