This blog post was updated on January 4, 2021.

With a U.S. passport, the world is at your feet. Owning a passport will open up a new world of experiences in several countries — about 185 countries and territories (without a Visa, or Visa on arrival), to be precise — now that’s a really good reason to apply for one right away! For many Americans, however, the lure of exploring the world and gaining easy visa-free access to the world is not quite appealing enough to make them apply for a new passport. While the number of Americans owning a passport has been on the up over the past few decades, it still lags behind European nations and even our neighbor to the north, Canada. According to Forbes, as of 2017, about 42% of Americans held passports — trailing the 2016 passport-holder population in the U.K. (76%) and Canada (66%).

While some would blame the work-all-the-time culture in the U.S. and the fewer vacation days available to the average American as factors that dissuade travel, there’s really no excuse for the average American to miss out on one of life’s biggest joys — the joy of travel! For those who do own their own U.S. passport, they can still make a major error: they can forget to renew their passport. While life can catch up with us all, there’s really no reason to have an expired passport that prevents you from taking advantage of last-minute cheap international flights to amazing destinations around the globe.

So if you’re among those who haven’t traveled at all, or in a long time, because you have either not applied for your passport or bothered getting it renewed, then this post is for you! Read on to find the simple steps all U.S. citizens can take to apply for or renew your passport — and we’ve cut out all the complicated stuff, just for you!

Steps for Passport Application

Application for a U.S. passport form with ballpoint pen

Here we go! While most people shy away from getting that new passport because it’s “too much work” or they “couldn’t understand all that jargon”, we’ve made your life a whole lot easier. We’ve stripped down the process so you just get the core information you need, so let’s get right to it!

Step 1: Fill out Your DS-11 Form

If you’re applying for the first time, or are 17 and younger, then this is the main form you’ll need to complete for your application.

Step 2: Get Your Supporting Documentation Together

Born in the U.S. and over the age of 18? Then here’s what you’ll need:

  • Your U.S. birth certificate
  • A photo ID (the most popular is a driver’s license, but there are other forms of ID that can also be used)

If it’s for a child under 16 years old, you’ll also need proof of relationship documentation.

Step 3: Take a Photo

Get a 2″-by-2″, color passport photo, and having a few extras wouldn’t hurt either.

Step 4: Pay Up

Depending on which passport acceptance facility you submit your application to, the accepted method of payment may differ. Credit cards, debit cards, and cash may not be accepted everywhere, so stick with:

  • Money orders
  • Checks

Step 5: Submit Your Application

You’ve got to make your application IN PERSON at a passport acceptance facility (as mentioned above). In about 4 – 6 weeks, you should have your new passport mailed to you.

Now that was quick and painless, wasn’t it? You’ll soon be sipping on a cocktail on an exotic beach in the Pacific, thanking your lucky stars you took the effort to apply for your very own passport!

Related: 4 Common Passport Mistakes People Make When Flying Internationally

Steps for Passport Renewal

Passport of USA on Notebook's keyboard

“Why should I renew my passport right now?” you may ask. Hmmm…let’s see: you land that dream job in London…but you’re in New York, or your brother decided to have an impromptu marriage ceremony with his Aussie girlfriend Down Under, or you’ve got the chance to visit Madrid with a limited-time deal on cheap international flights…and…you get the point? Now let’s see how we can simplify the process to renew your passport so you can travel abroad whenever you want!

Step 1:  Fill out a DS-82 Form

If you’re older than 16 and your passport is undamaged (other than normal “wear and tear”) and was issued in the past 15 years, then you’ll need to fill out this form.

Step 2: Collate Your Passport and Required documents

C’mon, we can do this — deep breaths! All you’ll need for passport renewal are:

  • Your old passport
  • If applicable: any documentation to support a name change from your current passport (can be a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court-ordered name change document, etc.)

Step 3: Get Your Picture Taken

Once again, you’ll need a 2″-by-2″ color passport photo. TIP: Remember to staple the photo to the application with 4 staples vertically in the corners as close to the outer edges as possible.

Step 4: Calculate and Then Pay the Fees

Just like for passport application, the preferred methods of payment to be mailed in with your application are:

  • Money orders
  • Checks

Step 5: Submit Your Application

We’re almost there! For passport renewals, you need to submit your form and required documents by mail. So, the final step would be to mail your recent passport, name change document (if applicable), photo, and fees to the appropriate address:

  • If you live in California, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, or Texas:

National Passport Processing Center
Post Office Box 640155
Irving, TX 75064-0155

  • If you live in any other state or Canada:

National Passport Processing Center
Post Office Box 90155
Philadelphia, PA 19190-0155

Voila! You’ve done it! Now, how simple was that? Applying for a new passport or getting an existing passport renewed actually doesn’t take too much effort on your part. If you ever feel that there are too many websites and too many documents with just too much information, just read our stripped-down, simplified steps and you’ll be flying high on cheap international flights to your dream destination. Now go travel — Bon voyage!

Have you recently gotten a new passport? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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Socialite, philanthropist, costumed crime fighter by wait...that's bad ... Musician, writer, travel junkie, dog lover, and database of useless information. I love to learn about new cultures, experience new cuisines, meet new people, and have a few laughs along the way!