Thinking of Studying Abroad? Get Your Passport First!

For Passport Awareness Month, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs is providing tips for first-time and repeat travelers alike.

September is Passport Awareness Month. As you start to dream about your study abroad plans or your next international vacation, make sure to have a valid passport in hand. Even if your travel plans are still far off, keep in mind that the time it takes to get a passport can fluctuate. You should apply 6-9 months ahead of planned travel or your passport’s expiration date. Also keep in mind that many countries require six months of passport validity to enter, so take a few minutes to learn about your destination’s entry requirements by visiting

If you have a five-year passport, issued when you were 15 or under, use form DS-11 to apply for your new passport at an acceptance facility. You should also use form DS-11 if this will be your first passport or if your most recent passport was lost or stolen. Start by making an appointment at a facility that accepts passport applications such as a post office, library, or clerk of court. You can find an acceptance facility close to you at this link.

Many adults qualify to renew their passport by mail using form DS-82, without the need to submit documents in person. You qualify for mail-in renewal if

  1. you were at least 16 when your most recent passport was issued,
  2. you can submit your most recent passport,
  3. your most recent passport was issued less than 15 years ago,
  4. your most recent passport was not mutilated, damaged, lost, or stolen, and
  5. you can submit documentation (such as marriage certificate or court order) if your name has changed since your most recent passport was issued.

Before you apply, make sure you have valid state-issued photo ID and proof of citizenship, such as a U.S. birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or previous U.S. passport. Avoid common mistakes that delay the process by printing the application after using our online form filler tool, following passport photo requirements, including your correct Social Security number, and submitting your most recent passport (or reporting it lost/stolen), if you have ever had one.  

Be sure to give yourself enough time to get your new passport. Passport processing times start when your application is received at a passport agency (different from the acceptance facility where you apply), and you must account for additional time for mailing on both sides of the process. Questions can be answered at or by calling the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778. Use the links below to help guide you through the process, and travel safely!

Apply for the first
Make an appointment to
Do I qualify for renewal?
Passport forms (form filler)
Proof of
Check the
Report your passport lost or
Current processing
Learn about your
Enroll in our travel safety
National Passport Information Center1-877-487-2778
I have a life-or-death emergency and need a passport within three business   Life-or-death emergency = an immediate relative has died or is dying