A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies your identity and nationality. A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave most foreign countries, as well as to return to the United States. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Give yourself several months before your planned trip to apply for a passport; during peak application season it can take up to 10 weeks to receive the final document in the mail. Take into account the time of year you are applying – demand for passports goes up during the spring and summer.
Some countries require that your passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip. Some airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement is not met. Consider the following scenario: A country requires that you have at least six months of validity on your passport. You currently have seven months of validity on your passport. However, your trip is two months from now. At that point, you will only have five months of validity remaining on your passport which is not enough to satisfy that country's entry requirements. In this situation, you would need to renew your passport before you can make your trip.
Check our Country Specific Information to learn about entry and exit requirements for the country or countries in which you are traveling. Watch this short YouTube video about why you need at least six months of validity on your U.S. passport!
You can request the expedited service (to get the passport to you in about three weeks) when you apply in person, for an additional $60 per application. If you are traveling within the next two weeks and really need your passport quickly, you’ll have to go to the closest regional passport agency to apply.
After you apply, you can check the status of your passport application online. Get even more detailed information from the State Department’s travel pages and read FAQs on the passport application process. Prices and policies may change, so be sure to check back for all the latest information regarding travel!