The Online Passport Application Explained
There is a different online passport application for those applying for their initial passport than for those renewing a passport. A person applying for an initial passport completes the DS-11 Application for a U.S. Passport. Someone who is renewing a passport may renew via mail if certain requirements are met. In this case, the person will complete Form DS-82: Application for a U.S. Passport by Mail. The application may be downloaded from the U.S. Department of State or private passport processing company web sites.
These web sites offer the application form for download and printing by the public. Though it may be completed online, the form may not be submitted online. The reason for this is that the application must be hand-signed and additional documents must be provided in hard copy format.
The supporting documentation provided with a passport application is intended to verify the applicant’s identity. They include evidence of U.S. citizenship and present identification. A birth certificate will fulfill the first category and a driver’s license will fulfill the second.
The birth certificate must be a certified version containing the registrar’s seal, signature, and date the certificate was filed with the registrar’s office. The birth certificate may be issued by the city, county, or state of birth. The driver’s license must still be valid and must be submitted in person by the first-time applicant. A copy of the driver’s license must also be provided. Should the applicant not have a driver’s license, a current government or military ID may be substituted.
If the applicant does not have one of these forms of identification, secondary identification will be accepted. A combination of signature documents may be provided including a social security card, credit card, employee identification card, and a library card. An identifying witness who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and has known the applicant for at least two years may accompany the applicant and serve as secondary proof of identity. The applicant is encouraged to submit as much secondary identification as possible because these applicants are handled on a case-by-case basis.
The private service providers and the government list all of this information on their Web sites. There is a wealth of detail on these sites, so read through everything carefully. The web sites also contain information regarding the various government fees and additional charges established by the service providers. Different providers charge different fees, so some research will be required in order to obtain the best deal.
The applicant should then make an in-person visit to the post office or passport agency for application verification, if required, and then package all documents and sent them off for processing. The package should include two photos that will be used in the new passport. These photos must adhere to certain specifications, so check the provider or government Web site for guidance.