Are you planning your first trip abroad? Getting your passport may seem like a daunting process, but fortunately, applying for a first-time passport is more straightforward than it seems. Here is Swift’s guide on how to apply for a passport for the first time:
Determine How Fast You Need It
The steps for how to get a passport for the first time if you can wait four to six weeks are slightly different than if you need your passport sooner. If you can wait up to six weeks, you can submit all your documents through the U.S. Department of State (DOS).
If you need your passport sooner, you want to go with expedited passport service, such as Swift, which can process passports in as little as one business day.
Set Your Appointment
Getting a first-time passport requires an appointment at a passport acceptance facility, which you can locate on the DOS website. Before your appointment, make sure you have all the documents you need.
Gather Required Documents
The first part of the list below is everything you need to submit with the DOS, followed by additional items you’ll need if you’re using a passport service for expedited processing.
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship: An original or certified copy of your U.S. birth certificate works here, as does an original Certificate of Naturalization.
- DS-11 Passport Application: Access and complete the passport application on the DOS website, then print it. Wait to sign it in front of an agent during your appointment.
- Passport-Ready Photo: Passport photos should measure two-inches square, be in color with a white background, and have been taken within the last six months. Ears need to be visible, and no glasses should be worn.
- Copy of Valid Photo ID: Make a copy of the front and back of your driver’s license, state ID, military ID, or government ID.
- Payment: A personal check made payable to the U.S. Department of State is needed to cover the passport fees.
For expedited processing from Swift, you’ll also need:
- Letters of Authorization: Two copies of a letter of authorization that allows the passport service to submit materials on your behalf.
- Proof of Travel Within Two Weeks: A copy of your flight itinerary or plane ticket fulfills this requirement.
- Photocopies of All Submitted Documents: The passport agent will seal all your original documents in an envelope which can’t be opened by the passport agency. Including a copy of all your submitted materials ensures speedy processing.
Have Payment Ready
In addition to a check made payable to the government, there are fees associated with expedited passport processing.
Check payable to government:
- $170 for passport book only
- $200 for passport book and card
- $90 for passport card only
Expedited processing fees payable to Swift:
- $399 for processing in one business day
- $349 for two business days
- $275 for three business days
- $199 for four to six business days
If you need your passport processed within one to two business days, contact Swift ahead of time to let them know you’ll be sending your documents.
Once you have everything set, you’re in the final phase. Show up with your documents at your passport agency appointment. Submit everything during your appointment for standard processing.
If you’re going for expedited processing, send the sealed envelope containing your original documents and your set of copies to Swift for expedited processing. You’ll also want to visit to our website to ensure you submit payment and any additional information required.
We hope this guide provides the info you need on how to get a passport for the first time. If you have any additional questions, please contact Swift. We’re happy to help!
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.