You must have a passport! A passport identifying you as a citizen of your country is required for travel in most countries other than your own and for reentry into your own country. Detailed information is available at the U.S. Department of State’s Web site, http://travel.state.gov/passport/.
Apply in person at a passport agency in specially designated post offices. If your post office does not handle passports, ask a post office employee where you can go to apply.
The following documentation is required in the application process for a U.S. passport:
A properly completed passport application. Instructions are on the back of the application form.
Two recent color photographs. Specific size requirements are noted on the application—be sure to adhere to them carefully! Your post office might be equipped to take this photo, or you can try a local Wal-Mart, drug store, or photo studio.
Proof of U.S. citizenship. Generally, the original or certified copy of your birth certificate is acceptable proof. (The following documents are not acceptable: Social Security card, learner’s or temporary driver’s license, a credit card, any temporary or expired identity card or document, any document that has been altered or changed in any manner.)
A fee. Ask at the post office or check on the Web site for the exact amount. Paying by personal check may slow the process, so another method such as cash or money order is a good option.
Your passport will be sent to you by mail anywhere from two to eight weeks after applying. The process can be expedited for an additional fee; obtain that information from the Web site mentioned above.
IMPORTANT: Sign your passport immediately and complete the information on the inside cover.
A passport issued to an individual who is at least 18 years old will be valid for ten years. If you already have a passport but it will expire within six months, you must apply for a new one. Ask for instructions at the post office and/or check the Web site for information.
Make several photocopies of the photo/signature pages of your passport, the pages that also contain the official stamp of the issuing agency. Keep one copy with you while traveling, but in a bag or place separate from the passport itself. Give another copy to a parent or close friend for safekeeping. Should your passport become lost or stolen, this copy can be used in the process of obtaining a new one.