Can You Apply for Your Passport by Mail?
While travelers who are renewing their passports may do so by mail, first-time applicants and minor children may not.
If you are applying for your first passport, you will need to appear in person at a passport office, officially known as a passport acceptance facility, to provide proof of identity and citizenship to a passport agent and to swear that the information provided on the passport application is true and correct.
You must also apply for your US passport in person if you are a minor child under age 16, an adolescent age 16 or 17 or need a passport in a hurry. Both parents must go with their minor child to the passport acceptance facility. If one parent cannot be present, he or she must fill out a Form DS-3053, Statement of Consent, have it notarized and send it with the parent who is going to the passport acceptance facility.
How to Find a US Passport Acceptance Facility
Finding a US passport acceptance facility is as simple as filling out an online search box, using your ZIP code or city and state. The Department of State has created an online Passport Acceptance Facility Search Page to help you locate your closest passport office.
You may need to make an appointment to apply for your passport, particularly if you plan to apply at a busy post office. Some applicants (including this writer) choose to complete the passport application process at a passport acceptance facility that is not close to their home, perhaps while on vacation, because it is less stressful to visit a quiet walk-in passport acceptance facility than to schedule an appointment at a busy one. You can apply for a US passport at any passport acceptance facility, regardless of where you live; the application requirements are the same throughout the United States.
Where to Go if You Need Expedited Passport Service
If you need your passport in two weeks or less, or if you need to apply for a foreign visa within the next four weeks, you should go to your nearest Department of State Regional Passport Agency and apply in person for your new passport. The US Department of State maintains a list of Passport Agencies on its website. This list includes links to each individual Passport Agency.
Your first step should be to visit the website of the Passport Agency you plan to use, as each Agency has specific procedures you must follow. You will need to call the Passport Agency you plan to use and make an appointment. When appointment day arrives, bring your appointment number, passport application forms, photographs, original supporting documents and required fees. You must bring hard copy proof of your upcoming international travel, such as ticket receipts or cruise contracts. Expect to pay an expedited service fee (currently $60) in addition to the regular passport application fees.
If you are facing a life or death emergency or must travel to another country immediately, you can ask for Will Call pickup. You will be able to return to the Passport Agency on a designated date to pick up your new passport. Your pickup date and time will depend on your travel plans.
How to Apply for a Passport When You Are Overseas
If you live overseas, you can apply for a passport at your nearest US embassy or consulate. Application procedures are different for each consulate and embassy. You cannot get an expedited passport from a US consulate or embassy, although you may be able to obtain a limited-duration emergency passport if the embassy or consulate is willing to issue one based on your travel circumstances.
Expect to pay for your passport in cash if you apply overseas. Some embassies and consulates can accept credit cards, but many do not. Consult the website of your nearest embassy or consulate for information before you begin filling out forms.