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Five Things You Need to Apply for a US Passport

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Passport Awareness Month banner

September = Passport Awareness Month!

September is a great time to apply for a passport in preparation for family travel, spring, break, or event study abroad. Whether you are applying for a new passport or you're eligible for a renewal, there are five (5) basic requirements for all US passport applicants:

Passport Application

The US Department of State requires that you complete a passport application. If you have never had a US passport, you will need to apply for a new passport. While many students may have expired or expiring passports, if they are approaching expiration, it is most likely they will need to apply for a new passport because their current passport is unlikely to be eligible for renewal. If you want to check just in case, the Dept of State has a tool to determine which is most appropriate.

Download your passport form here.

Application graphic

Proof of Citizenship

To be eligible for a US passport, you must demonstrate citizenship evidence. If you have an old passport—no matter whether it is expired or valid and no matter whether you are eligible for a passport renewal or only a new passport—this is the easiest method to prove citizenship. The next most common is a US birth certificate. Another common document is a certifcate of naturalization.

Read more on valid citizenship evidence.

Birth certificate graphic

Passport Photo

People make mistakes with passports. One frequent error is a poor-quality passport photo. What can go wrong? Almost everything! Here are a some common errors:

  • Wrong size or head size within photo
  • Image quality
  • Background
  • Pose
  • Wearing glasses or red eyes

Take a look at passport photo guidance from the Dept. of State.

Camera graphic

Photo ID

This sounds straightforward and simple. If you are applying for a renewal, your old passport will meet this requirement. If you are applying for a new passport and you are not submitting an old passport, you will most likely need your California driver's license or ID, but no matter which form of government-issued photo ID you use, you will need to bring the original and a photocopy of the front and back.

Read more about ID requirements.


Photo ID graphic


You will have potentially more than one fee for applying for a passport. Everyone will pay an application fee, new passport applicants will pay an execution fee, and accelerating your passport processing or mailing will call for additional fees. But here's where things get complicated:

  • Applicants for a new passport (including those who have/had a previous passport but not eligible for a renewal) will pay the execution fee ($35 as of Sep, 2022) to the Passport Acceptance Facility
  • All other fees will be paid to the US Department of State
  • The Passport Acceptance Facility may only take specific forms of payment (e.g. cash or money order) while the Dept of State will accept checks or money orders only. It is recommended you call your Passport Acceptance Facility in advance to inquire about accepted forms of payment.

View or calculate your passport fees


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Need a passport? We have one more session if you need, or you can explore what it takes on your own. We also plan to offer passport photo services at our next Global Lounge event, Wednesday afternoon, September 22.

Check out this how-to video on applying for a passport:

How to Apply for a US Passport video

Start Your Application

Ready to apply? Head over to the MyStudyAbroad Portal to begin your find your progam and being your application today.