If you are a citizen of the United States of America, you may hold a passport, which is an official identification and travel document issued by the U.S. Department of State. A small booklet, it will have the individual’s name, place of birth, date of birth, date of issue and expiry, and a passport number. Depending on the status of the individual in their home country, they get issued a particular type of passport.
The purpose of your passport is to identify you as the legal citizen of the United States allowing you to walk freely in any state or city of the United States of America. As per law, any person is not allowed to travel outside the United States without a valid passport. Similarly, no person is allowed to travel inside the United States of America from a foreign land without a valid passport.
A passport issued to an adult citizen of the United States is valid for up to 10 years whereas a passport issued to any citizen below the age of 16 is valid for up to only 5 years. If you wish to travel outside the United States, make sure your passport isn’t expiring before the next 6 months as part of the Six-Month Validity Rule. This rule enables other countries to refuse entry to you if your passport is expiring within the next 6 months.
Getting Your First Passport
To get your passport, you’ll need to apply and submit the requisite documents in person. You’ll need to make an appointment at the nearest facility. Carry the following documents with you:
- Evidence of US citizenship
- Valid identification
- Filled-in DS-11 application for
- Passport photos
Once your application is processed, it typically takes 4-6 weeks for your passport to arrive.
If your passport has expired or is expiring soon, you can apply for passport renewal through either mail or in-person. Passport renewal service is only applicable if you are an adult citizen and the period of expiration has not exceeded 5 years.
In case you are a minor under the age of 16, you cannot renew your passport but can apply for a new passport.
Passport Issued in Emergency
In an emergency such as theft, loss or imminent death of any family member, the U.S.Department of State can issue you an emergency passport which is only valid for up to one year. Such a passport can later be exchanged for a normal full-term passport.
Types of Passports
- Normal Passports
- Service Passports
- Official Passports
- Diplomatic Passports
- U.S. Passport Card
The U.S. passport is one of the 10 most powerful passports in the world. While you can travel anywhere (except North Korea) with a valid passport, you need to apply for a visa to visit most countries. Although there are a few countries which do not require a visa if you are a U.S. passport holder. You can find all information on the official website of the U.S. Department of State.