A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies the identity and nationality of the bearer. A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave most foreign countries. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue or verify United States passports for U.S. citizens.
Passports are obtained through the Passport Services Division of the Department of State. Through your local passport acceptance agent, usually at the Post Office, you can apply for a new passport, renew your old one, replace a lost, stolen, or damaged passport, or add new pages to your existing book. If you are leaving on a trip, include your departure date on your application.
Passport processing times have changed due to large volumes of applications since the new Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative went into effect in January 2007. For the most current processing times, please visit the Department of State website.
You’ll need to apply in person if you are applying for a U.S. passport for the first time; if your expired U.S. passport is not in your possession; if your previous U.S. passport has expired and was issued more than 15 years ago or if your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under 16, or your currently valid U.S. passport has been lost or stolen.
You can renew by mail if you meet these conditions:
For more information on forms and fees, go to the State Department's webpage on How to apply for passport renewal.
Beginning January 23, 2007, all persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda will now be required to present a valid passport, Air NEXUS card, or U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document, or an Alien Registration Card, Form I-551.
Currently, according to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), all U.S. citizens traveling by land or sea need to present either a passport, passport card, a WHTI-compliant document, or a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, along with proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. By June 1, 2009, the proposed rules will require most U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry to have a passport, passport card, or WHTI-compliant document.
If you intend to travel internationally, you are encouraged to apply for these documents several months in advance to accommodate potential delays in processing. The Department of State website has more information about applying for a U.S. passport.
You’re leaving for vacation next month and realize that your passport has expired. For a $60.00 fee--plus the cost of 2-way overnight mail--you can "expedite" this process and receive your passport in about two weeks. Clearly mark Expedited on the envelope. Please note: Passport applications sent together or at the same time do not necessarily remain together. Passports will be mailed separately. For more information on expedited passport processing click here.
The San Francisco Passport Agency serves customers who are traveling within 2 weeks (14 days), or who need foreign visas for travel. An appointment is required
San Francisco Passport Agency
Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., local time, M-F, excluding Federal holidays Automated Appointment Number: 1-877-487-2778
If you have a travel emergency, please call the National Passport Information Center to speak to a Customer Service Representative. Do not e-mail. Customer Service Representatives and Operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.
For general questions:
You can get information on passports from a Customer Service operator at the NPIC numbers listed above. Additionally, automated information is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For answers to frequently asked questions, go to International Visas and Travel Tips on the State Department's website.
You've got your passport and you're ready to go on your trip, right? Not quite. You still have to check with the country or countries you'll be visiting to determine whether or not you'll need a visa. A visa is permission from a country to cross its borders and comes in the form of a stamp in your U.S. Passport. You usually have to mail your passport to the Embassy or Consulate of the country you'll be visiting, so allow plenty of time to accomplish this. Also, check the State Department website for travel warnings and consular information sheets that provide very helpful information about the country you plan on visiting. Its services website also contains very comprehensive information on all the services provided by the State Department both stateside and abroad. This includes crisis assistance for U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad, and various travel publications available on-line.
American Embassies and Consulates General: Many U.S. Diplomatic Missions abroad have information on-line. For those that don't, check the State Department's Key Officers of Foreign Service Posts for addresses, and phone and fax numbers for U.S. Embassies and Consulates throughout the world.
For travel information by country, including entry/exit requirements, safety information, updates on current events, you may access country-specific fact sheets on the Department of State website. Prior to your departure, check the fact sheets for any advisories that may affect your travel plans or preparation.
It is also advisable to register at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the foreign country you are visiting in order to make your presence known, in case it is necessary for a consular officer to contact you in an emergency. Although voluntary, registration is particularly important for those who plan to stay in a country longer than one month, or who will travel to:
U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad also provide a wide variety of resources for U.S. citizen travelers:
Additional information for travelers is available on the Department of State’s website. For additional questions or assistance, you may also contact my district office by phone at (408) 558-8085 or by fax at (408) 558-8086.