Wed. May 27th, 2020

Exactly How Hard Is It To Get A Passport?

Passports on a map of the world to illustrate the keys to world travel

Many fans of Asian culture stop just short of obtaining their passport to see their interest up close

I can remember wanting to teach abroad in Japan. Seeing how colorful, unique, and different the streets of Hong Kong were from anything I had ever known. What is it though, with Asian countries? Why do they capture our attention the way they do? Perhaps a question for another day.

Today, let’s take the first step toward truly learning about and appreciating the culture we’ve come to adore. So the question is:

How hard is it to obtain a passport?

Apply for a U.S. Passport


To have a U.S. passport, you need to be a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization or be a U.S. national.

Passport Book and Passport Card

Depending on where you are traveling outside of the U.S., you will need to determine if you need a passport book or a passport card.

  • A passport book is required for all international travel by air.
  • To enter the United States at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda, you can use a passport book or a passport card.
  • A passport card is more convenient and less expensive than a passport book, but it cannot be used for international travel by air.

The answer is literally waiting within the unclassified web of hyperlinks stacked within USA.Gov’s website. Check out this infographic about how to apply for and obtain a passport:

One thing’s for sure, in the year 2020; we’re pursuing our goals, y’all. No more wishing. No more shooting the shit. From now on, we are figuring out what we want, and then doing whatever it takes to obtain it. Uh, within the laws and regulations of the land though. Don’t steal or kill anyone.

Anyway, here’s to a new year of travel, discovery, and wish-fulfillment! Happy Trails. Below is detailed information from USA.Gov about obtaining a passport. If you visit the site directly, you can even find information about grabbing your kids a passport as well. Definitely a must for traveling families.

How to Apply

The application process is the same for either the passport book or card, even if you want both at the same time. You have to go in person to present your application.

From Within the United States

  • If you need to get a passport in three weeks or less, you will need an expedited process. To find out where you need to go and what additional fees you’ll pay, follow the steps to get a passport quickly.
  • If you will be traveling in more than three weeks, you can follow the regular application process and apply in person at a passport acceptance facility.

From Outside the United States

Items You Need to Apply for a U.S. Passport

  • Application Form – To complete the application for a passport book, card, or both together, first do one of the following:
    • Fill out the application online. Use the Passport Application Wizard to step through the process of filling out the application. When you’ve completed the application, print it out to take to the passport acceptance facility. Passport applications cannot be submitted online.
    • Fill out the application by hand. Download the passport application form (DS-11) and instructions (PDF, Download Adobe Reader) and complete the application by hand, or go to a local passport acceptance facility to get a copy to fill out.
      • Whether you fill it out online or by hand, it is important that you do not sign the form until you are instructed to do so in front of a passport designated official you will meet when applying in person.
  • Personal documents – You’ll need to bring all of the following:
    • An original proof of citizenship document
    • An acceptable photo ID document
    • A photocopy of the front and back of the citizenship document and photo ID document
  • Passport photo – Follow the photo requirements.
  • Payment – Calculate your passport fees.

Renew a U. S. Passport

Every person, regardless of age, must have their own passport to travel internationally by air.


To have a U.S. passport, you need to be a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization or be a qualifying U.S. national.

You can renew your current or expired U.S. passport unless your passport was:

  • Issued before your 16th birthday
  • Issued 15 or more years ago
  • Damaged, lost, or stolen
  • Issued in your previous name and you don’t have a legal document like a marriage license to prove your legal name change

If any of these are true, you cannot renew your passport. Instead, you must apply for a new passport in person using form DS-11.

How to Renew Your Passport

  • If you need to get a passport quickly–in three weeks or less–you will need to have your passport renewal expedited and pay additional fees.
    • Call the national Passport Information Center to make an appointment at a  Regional Passport Agency. There are two options for getting an appointment:
    • At your appointment, you’ll need to provide proof of immediate travel, an expedited fee, and the items listed below to renew your passport.
  • If you will be traveling in more than three weeks, you can submit an application by mail.

If you live outside the U.S. or Canada: Contact the U.S. Embassy or consulate near you for information and forms on all passports requested from overseas.

Items You Need to Renew Your Passport

The Passport Services Office returns the official documents you submit as supporting documentation.

Tips on When to Renew Your Passport

  • Renew your passport approximately nine months before it expires.
  • Check the expiration date because certain countries require passports to remain valid for up to 6 months after travel. Also, some airlines do not allow you to board if you don’t meet this requirement.
  • If you travel frequently, check the “52-page” box at the top of your passport application to receive a larger passport book with 52 pages.

For more information, see these frequently asked questions about passports

Get a Passport Quickly

You can request and pay for expedited service if you’re:

  • Traveling in 24-48 hours for an emergency such as a serious illness, injury, or death in your immediate family
  • Traveling within 2-3 weeks and you’re able to provide proof of immediate international travel (for example, purchased airline or cruise tickets)

Follow these steps for an expedited service request in person:

  1. Call the National Passport Information Center to make an appointment with your nearest passport agency. There are two options to make the appointment: 
  2. At your passport agency appointment, submit your application in person. 

If your trip is not within 2-3 weeks, but you need your U.S. passport more quickly than the normal processing period of 6 to 8 weeks, you can request expedited service by mail or in person at a passport acceptance facility near you. 

In addition to the regular passport application costs, the expedited service will cost an extra $60, plus any delivery costs.