Do you know how to get a passport? While it might seem like a complicated process, it doesn’t have to be. Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place. From printing out your application to receiving your passport in the mail, we’ve got you covered. Take a look at the ultimate guide to getting a passport.

Preparing your application

You might be wondering: what is the passport application like? Fortunately, it may be more simple than you think. First of all, you need to gather a few important things before you can apply for a passport. These include a passport application, proof of American citizenship, proof of your identification, two recent photos, a social security number, and a valid method of payment.

Now that you know what you need for a U.S. passport application, the next step is to download an application for your passport. Not only can you grab an application at the U.S. Post Office, but you can also print it out online. Pro tip? According to the U.S. government, “the forms…must be printed in black print on white paper. The paper must be 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches, with no holes or perforations, at least medium (20 lb.) weight, and with a matte surface. Thermal paper, dye-sublimation paper, special inkjet paper, and other shiny papers are not acceptable.”

After you’ve printed your application, it’s time to read the fine print. That means that you actually have to read the instructions on the first two pages of the passport application. Once you get to the third page, you can fill it out with the information from the previous pages. Next, read the instructions on page four for more information about how to complete the form. When you’ve finished, you can get your documents together for the next step.

Passport application process

We can’t emphasize this enough: make sure that you get the correct documents together before you get your closest passport office. As stated by the U.S. Department of State, you can either use an American birth certificate (or foreign birth certificate if you were born abroad), certificate of naturalization, or citizenship certificate for this step.

What about proof of identity documents? You can get away with using an old passport, a certificate of naturalization, or a citizenship certificate to prove your identity at the passport office. You can also use a recent driver’s license, state or federal ID, or a military ID in order to verify your identity.

Want to know the best part? You get to take two, brand new photos of yourself for the passport application process. All that you have to do is wear your everyday attire and make sure that you’re not covering your head. For those of you that usually have glasses on, remember to wear your frames for the photo. When you’re ready for your headshot, try to look directly at the camera and avoid smiling. Luckily, most U.S. post offices will take your passport photos for you.

Once you’ve taken your passport photo, you must add your Social Security number to the passport form. Don’t have it memorized? Fortunately, you can jot it down and take it with you to the passport office. If all else fails, then you can always bring in your physical Social Security Card to the passport office as well.

But here’s the kicker: you’ve got to pay for the passport before you can receive it in the mail. That includes the application and execution fees for the passport application process. If you’re over 16 years old, expect to pay at least $110 and a $35 fee. For those on a time limit, you can pay an additional $60 and an overnight fee to expedite the process. After you check to see which method of payment your passport office accepts, you’ve got to get your cash together to pay for it.

Receiving your passport

What’s the real story about receiving your passport? The first step is to locate your closest passport office. Surprisingly, your local post office may be able to process your passport form for you. The next step is to submit your passport application, photos, and payment. Then, you have to let the passport office know when you plan to leave the country.

How long does it take to get a U.S. passport? After you’ve sent in the necessary paperwork, you should receive your passport from anywhere between two weeks to two months. If you’ve got extra money to spend, then you can pay another $60 and an overnight fee to rush your U.S. passport application process. In fact, you might even your passport on the same day that you sent in your application. You can even start tracking the status of your passport application online about a week after you’ve submitted your form.

Ever wondered how to renew a passport? One of the most important things you should do to renew a passport is to send in your application early. For those using Passport Renewal Application Form DS-82, the U.S. Post Office doesn’t need to look at your application again to process it. As a matter of fact, you can directly submit your renewal application to the State Department by mail. Then, you’ll need to review your eligibility for renewal, get your application together, and mail it to the State Department. Good luck!