Passport 101: Information First Time Applicants Need to Know

If you are planning to travel to another country in the near future, you will need to obtain a passport. A passport is a legal document that shows where you are from and the purpose of your visit to the country you are visiting. It is basically your key to returning home. While the process to obtaining a passport can seem overwhelming, it can be simple if you know what to expect. This article will discuss the important and necessary information you need to know in order to apply for and obtain your first passport.


There are many documents that you will need in order to apply for your passport. The documents needed are proof of citizenship, valid photo identification, two passport photos, and a completed application. If you are a U.S. born citizen, your birth certificate will serve as your proof of citizenship. If you are not a U.S. born citizen, your citizenship papers from your country of birth or your proof of U.S. citizenship will be sufficient for your passport application. Photo identification can be a valid driver’s license, military identification card, or government identification card. To obtain a passport application, you will need to visit a passport application site and complete the application there, or print the online application and bring it in with you to your appointment. You can get passport photos at several locations that can be found online, or you can have your photos taken at the application site. Keep in mind that having your photo taken at the passport application site can take more time and might require you to stand in a separate line. The paperwork can take some time to gather and organize, so be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to do so before you make an appointment.


There are certain fees you must pay in order to apply for your passport. These fees include an application fee and an execution fee. The fees vary depending on the age of the applicant, as those younger than 16 years of age pay a lower fee than those who are older than 16 years of age. The passport sites only take money orders or checks when paying the fees and the fees have to be paid separately, as the application fee is paid to the U.S. government and the execution fee is paid to your local passport site. Be sure to come prepared with your separate checks or money orders beforehand.

Appointments or visits to the passport site

While some locations require an appointment and do not accept walk-ins, there are other locations that accept both walk-ins and appointments. However, showing up as a walk-in will take some time and you should be prepared to stand in a long line. Making an appointment will shorten your application time and might be the better choice. However, keep in mind that passports can take up to eight weeks to receive so if you need yours quickly, it is better to make an appointment. You can also expedite the process for an additional fee and have your passport delivered in less time. Many passport sites are located within local post offices while others are passport sites only.

About the Author:

Tess Young is an avid traveler and has many stamps in her passport. She suggests checking out the website Flying Passport for more information about travel and obtaining your passport.