How do I apply for a U.S. Passport—In person or by mail?

It depends on your situation. Some people can apply by mail. Others must apply in person.

You can apply for a U.S. passport BY MAIL if you:

    Currently have a U.S. passport;
    Your U.S. passport is undamaged;
    Your U.S. passport can be sent in with your application;
    Your U.S. passport was issued when you were age 16 or older;
    Your U.S. passport was issued less than 15 years ago; AND
    Your U.S. passport was issued in your current name.[214]
    If ALL of the above requirements are true for you, then you can simply apply by mail to renew your U.S. passport. Go to PG. 63 below to learn how.

You must apply IN PERSON if:

    You have never had a passport before; OR
    Your previous U.S. passport was lost, stolen, or damaged; OR
    Your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were age 15 or younger; OR
    Your previous U.S. passport was issued more than 15 years ago; OR
    Your name has legally changed since your U.S. passport was issued, and you don’t have official documents proving your legal name change (like government-issued papers showing your legal name change or an original or certified copy of your marriage certificate, if you changed it for marriage.)[215]
    If you are required to apply in person, you will need to find a local Passport Office. You can also apply at any Passport Acceptance Facility, which is a broad category of places that includes post offices, court clerk’s offices, public libraries, and any other government office that accepts passport applications.[216] To find passport offices or Passport Acceptance Facilities near you, you can check your local yellow pages, call “Information” at 4-1-1, or check the Internet for these online guides:
    For a directory of Passport Offices in California, listed by county, visit: www.uspassporthelPGuide.com/passport/california/
    For a directory of Passport Acceptance Facilities in California, listed by city, visit: www.us-passport-service-guide.com/california-passport-office.html
    To search for any Passport Acceptance Facility near you, based on your ZIP code and city, visit: http://iafdb.travel.state.gov/
  1. 214

    Exception to this last condition: If you legally changed your name since your most recent passport, you can still apply by mail if you provide official documents proving your name change. Acceptable documents include: an original or certified copy of your marriage certificate, or government-issued papers showing your legal name change. U.S. Passports & Int’l Travel, U.S. Dep’t of State, http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/renew.html.

  2. 215

    U.S. Passports & Int’l Travel, U.S. Dep’t of State, http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/new.html

  3. 216

    U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, http://iafdb.travel.state.gov/.