What Is the U.S. Postal Service Passport Service?

By Danielle Fernandez

How USPS can help you with your passport needs

What Is the U.S. Postal Service Passport Service?

While you can mail an application for a new or renewed passport directly to the U.S. Department of State, there are situations – for example, a lost or stolen passport, or one that's been expired for more than 15 years – in which you'll need to apply in person. For these situations, the U.S. Postal Service is also poised to accept in-person applications and, in some cases, also facilitate taking the passport photo as well.

Passport fees and required documentation

For applicants over the age of 16, passport fees are $110 for a passport book, $30 for a passport card or $140 for one of each. For those 15 and under, the fees are slightly lower: $80 for a passport book, $15 for a passport card and $95 for both. Regardless of age, first-time applicants will also be required to pay an additional $25 fee for passport execution.

In addition to the photo, application and fees, you will also need to provide current government-issued identification (e.g., driver's license), evidence of citizenship (e.g., birth certificate or naturalization papers) and a photocopy of everything you're submitting.

Photo requirements

While the photo development department at your local drugstore or big box store will take and process your passport photo, many U.S. Postal Service locations are equipped to do it for you as well. If you decide to use a photo you already have at home, you'll need to ensure it meets specific requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of State. The photo must be sized to 2-by-2 inches, with your head positioned somewhere between the 1- and 1-3/8-inch mark. Photos also must have been taken less than six months ago (to ensure you still look the same), in color with a white or neutral background, and printed on photo-quality paper.

Get it faster

A routine passport application can take anywhere from six to eight weeks to process, so the earlier you get your documentation prepared, the faster you can travel abroad. To make the process as painless as possible, print out and complete the applicable forms, which can be found on the U.S. Department of State's website, prior to heading to the post office.

In addition, to further expedite the receipt of your passport application, the U.S. Postal Service offers a few additional options for getting your request processed quickly. You can:

  • Pay an additional fee for faster application processing.
  • Opt to submit your application via Priority Mail Express, which express ships the documents to the U.S. Department of State.
  • Schedule an appointment with the U.S. Department of State and skip the visit to the post office entirely.

Important considerations

When applying for a new or renewed passport, be sure to begin the process early – not only because it helps eliminate the risk of paperwork delays, but also because many destinations require a minimum of six months' validity at the time of entry. If you're opting to process your application at a U.S. Post Office, call ahead and make an appointment; many locations have limited hours for passport services. Use the P.O. Locator at the U.S. Postal Service website (be sure to select "Passports" from the drop-down menu) to find the nearest location offering passport processing.

About the Author

Based in Tampa, Fla., Danielle Fernandez been writing, editing and illustrating all things technology, lifestyle and education since 1999. Her work has appeared in the Tampa Tribune, Working Mother magazine, and a variety of technical publications, including BICSI's "Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual." Fernandez holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of South Florida.