The U.S. Government issued over 13 millions passports in 2009.  Getting a passport for your next journey involves just three steps.

1.  Complete the Passport Application Form

The State Department has different application forms for different situations.  They are sometimes known helpfully as Form DS-11, DS-82, and DS-5504. DS-11 is the standard application for a passport, and should be used only where you will submitting the application in person, not by mail. It is available here.  Form DS-82 is similar, but is intended to be mailed in for processing. It is available here.  Form DS-5504 is used to make name changes, correct printing errors, or extend the expiration date of a limited passport.  It is available here.  These forms should also be available at your local post office or public library.

2.  Get a Passport Photo

Drug stores such as Walgreen’s offer inexpensive passport photos. Some post offices will also take them for a $15 fee.

3.  Find and Go to a Post Office that Takes Passport Applications

U.S. citizens can apply for a passport at many post offices. To find a post office that accepts these applications, use the U.S. Post Office’s locator tool. As of February 2010, the fees are:

Passport Services

Acceptance Fee

Application Fee

Total Fees

Passport Book

Age 16 and over

$25

$75

$100

Passport Book

Under Age 16

$25

$60

$85

Passport Card

Age 16 and over

$25

$20

$45

Passport Card

Under Age 16

$25

$10

$35

Passport Book & Card

Age 16 and over

$25

$95

$120

Passport Book & Card

Under Age 16

$25

$70

$95

 

Note: Some post offices require that you make an appointment or take your photo.  Call first.