What Are the Basic Passport Requirements?

Alex Tree
Alex Tree
A passport.
A passport.

While passport requirements vary between countries, a lot of countries have the same or similar rules regarding this travel document. Being able to prove identity and citizenship and having an acceptable passport photograph are basic passport requirements. In addition, if a person is trying to have his or her passport renewed, it is generally required that the passport be in good condition. Under most circumstances, passport applications must be turned in with fees to pay for the passport.

Proof of citizenship is typically required to get a passport.
Proof of citizenship is typically required to get a passport.

Certain documents are considered basic passport requirements. These passport requirements are primarily used to prove the applicant’s identify and determine whether he or she is eligible for a passport. Proof of citizenship and photo identification are commonly used, usually in the form of a birth certificate or government-issued identification card, respectively. In addition, sometimes even the paper the application is printed on matters to the accepting government. The weight of the paper, if the form can be printed double-sided, and more are often detailed.

A passport photo.
A passport photo.

One area in which passports usually have specific requirements is the photograph. Both the contents of the photograph and the technical specifications of the photograph often have very specific requirements. For example, it is usually against the guidelines for the subject of a passport photograph to wear items such as a hat or glasses unless he or she is doing so for a medical or religious reason. Furthermore, the size, color, and quality of the material used to display a passport photograph are a few other areas that typically have specific requirements. It is usually imperative that a passport photograph be completely original and not contain other people.

Passports do not last forever; they must usually be renewed after a decade or so and cannot be renewed if severely damaged. If a person changes his or her name or moves out of the country, the same passport also cannot be renewed. The old passport is needed to renew a passport, and it is usually given back to the person renewing it. In cases where the passport is defaced or altered, the government agency handling the passport renewal process might simply destroy the document.

Among the most basic passport requires are fees. Governments charge varying amounts to get a passport, renew a passport, and process passport applications faster than normal. Sometimes these fees are waived; for example, the country might temporarily stop charging for passports if citizens need to evacuate because of a natural disaster.

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Discussion Comments


@ddljohn-- Which country does that apply to?

I'm from Mexico and the Mexican passport requirements are pretty much the same as the American one. There is also an application and photos, birth certificate and a fee is required as well.

The fee can be a little bit more, depending on the kind of passport you're getting. There are several classes of passports, for example, a tourist and a businessman doesn't have the same one. So the fees vary somewhat. It can take a little longer to get the passport, but definitely not six months.

I think most countries' requirements are pretty standard when it comes to passport requirements. Although I have heard that in corrupt governments, many government offices, including the passport office runs based on bribes. Like people who pay bribes getting their passports faster and things like that. But I don't think this applies to most countries.


@ddljohn - I agree that it's pretty easy, although it's still over a hundred dollars! For me, the trickest part was the passport photo requirements. The budget was tight and we didn't want to spend money having them done. My husband found the only patch of blank wall in our house (which required us to kneel on the floor) and we took very straight pictures. Then he used free photo software to crop them to just the right size and printed them out on a free sample of photo paper that had come with our printer like five years ago. (Yep, we keep everything.)

I was nervous that they wouldn't be accepted because the requirements are so very strict, but they went through without a hitch.


I had to get my passport renewed several months ago. I picked up the form from the post office, filled it out with my information and turned it into the post office with new passport pictures, proof of identity and my old passport. I also paid a fee, which was not much at all. I got my new passport in several weeks and it also included my old passport with holes made into it to show that it's no longer applicable.

I think the passport requirements for USA is very acceptable and even simple. My wife, who is a national of another country, had the hardest time getting her passport there. She had to pay huge fees and it took about 6 months to get it.

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