Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - Passports

What is a Passport?  A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies the identity and nationality of the bearer. A valid United States (US) passport is required to enter and leave most foreign countries.

When can I use a Passport Card?  For travel to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda at land borders and sea ports of entry (not valid for international travel by air.)

What is the difference between a Passport Book and a Passport Card?  Visit the US Department of State website.

Do children need to appear to get a passport?  All passport applicants must apply in person with required documents, including minors and infants.  (See exception for renewals for those that are eligible to apply by mail.)

      Parental Consent Requirements for Minors

  • Minors through the age of 15 need to be accompanied by both parents or one parent along with the other parent's notarized written consent on form DS-3053. Submit the form with the application along with a copy of both sides of the "non-present" parent's photo ID (including signature). A birth certificate showing the names of both parents must be submitted, even when there is a previous US Passport.

  • Minors from age 16 to 17 must be accompanied by at least one legal guardian.  Proof of citizenship (birth certificate or existing passport) and parental consent is required.

Where can I get a Passport book or Passport Card application?  Passport applications are available at the Finance Department in City Hall or download an application at the US Department of State website  Finance will collect the fee for the Passport Book and/or the Passport Card. 

  • Please do not fold applications as they will be scanned when processed
  • Print application 1-sided (not duplex)
  • Do not sign DS-11 applications before processed at Finance

What Supporting Documents are Required with a Passport Application?

See the US Department of State website for more information.  Please be sure to have the following documents when applying for a passport book or passport card:

  • Two identical passport photos (2 inches by 2 inches) taken within the last six (6) months. Glasses are not acceptable in passport photos.  The city provides photo services for $15 a pair.

  • Proof of citizenship (link is external). An original United States birth certificate with a raised seal, a certified copy of your birth certificate issued by the Vital Statistics Department of a State Registrar's Office from the state in which you were born, a previously issued US passport, or a certificate of naturalization.
    For Minors a birth certificate showing the names and relationship* of both parents must be submitted for each child age 15 and younger, even when there is a previous US Passport. 

  • Current picture identification, such as a state driver's license or ID card. See Department of Homeland Security (DHS) REAL ID FAQ page.

  • Check or money order for payment to the US Department of State.

Visit the US Department of State at this link for additional information for the following items:

  • How do I apply for or Renew a Passport and what are the Required Documents needed?

  • How do I track my Application Status?

  • How do I report a Lost or Stolen Passport?

Do I have to submit my original birth certificate or any other citizenship documents with my passport application?  Yes (or a certified copy), the US Department of State will mail applicants their passport book and/or passport cards and will return birth certificates and naturalization certificates submitted with applications as well (oftentimes separately).

What documents are "not" accepted as Proof of Citizenship when applying for a Passport?

  • Hospital birth certificates; California abstract birth certificates; and some Texas abstract birth certificates are not acceptable for proof of citizenship.

  • Puerto Rican birth certificates:  The US Department of State will only accept Puerto Rican birth certificates issued on or after July 1, 2010 as primary evidence of US citizenship. For more information on the Puerto Rican birth certificate law visit the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration website at (English).

How long does it take to get a Passport book or Passport Card? 

Regular processing time for passport applications is typically 4 - 6 weeks.  (During the peak time of year February — August it can be 6 - 8 weeks... Apply Early).  Expedited Passports may be received within 3 weeks with an extra $60 processing fee and if payment is included for overnight return mail delivery service. Visit the US Department of State official website for the latest processing time.

How do I get a Passport in a hurry?  Visit this US Department of State webpage.

What is the REAL ID Act?  It’s regarding current picture identification, such as a state driver's license or ID card. 

Are there a few exceptions to the documentation needed for travel due to special circumstances? 
Visit the US Department of Homeland Security's website in the WHTI Land and Sea FAQ.

What is Visa and how do I get one?  A visa is an endorsement or stamp placed in your passport by a foreign government that permits you to visit that country for a specified purpose and a limited time -- for example, a 3-month tourist visa. Passport Acceptance Facilities cannot help you obtain visas.  To learn more about visas and how to apply for one go to


More FAQ are available at the US Department of State website…

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