What Are the Best Tips for Filling out a Passport Application?

Nicole Etolen
Nicole Etolen
It's important to be accurate on a passport application.
It's important to be accurate on a passport application.

Filling out a passport application can be a tedious process, and a single error can delay the issuance of the document, which can interfere with travel plans. Approximately 80 percent of the world’s countries require foreign visitors to present a valid passport before entering. The best tips for filling out the passport application include writing neatly, reading the instructions carefully, applying early, using the proper style of passport photo, and ensuring all needed documents are including with the application.

A passport photo.
A passport photo.

Travelers should start the passport application process at least 90 days prior to their departure date, and even earlier if possible. The application process depends on how busy the regional passport office is. While many people get their passports within a few weeks, it is better to err on the side of caution than to be caught without a passport on departure day. Passport renewal applications should be submitted between eight and 11 months prior to their expiration dates because many countries require the passports of travelers to be at least six months from expiration.

Applications should be filled out several months in advance of a planned international trip.
Applications should be filled out several months in advance of a planned international trip.

There are several different types of passport applications, including one for children, one for renewals, and one for first-time applicants. Getting the right form is vital, as the wrong form is grounds for rejection. Those filling out the passport application should read the instructions carefully, use the proper color ink, and print as neatly as possible. Children’s passports usually require both parent’s signatures or an affidavit explaining why this is not possible.

The passport application requires certain forms of identification to be sent in with paperwork. Typically, a certified copy of a birth certificate — often with a raised seal — is required, and photocopies are not accepted. A second form of identification may be required, such as a driver’s license, and copies are typically acceptable for these documents. When renewing a passport, the old passport is sufficient for identification, as long as it is not damaged or mutilated.

Along with the passport application and proper identification, two identical recent passport photos are required. Typically, they must be two inches by two inches in size, with a plain white background. While the photo can be taken at home and resized in photo editing software, going to a place that specializes in passport photos ensures that the photos meet the specific requirements.

After filling out the passport application and ensuring all the proper documents and photos are enclosed, the final step is signing the passport and enclosing payment, usually in the form of a personal check. Applicants should look over the document carefully and make sure they have signed in all of the proper places. The check should be for the exact amount required, filled out neatly, signed, and dated appropriately. One minor mistake can hold up the entire process, and mistakes often occur in the signatures and the payment submission.

Before sending the passport application to the appropriate address, photocopies of every page should be made, including all documents enclosed, the two photographs, and the check used to pay. Proper postage should be applied, and the address should be double-checked to ensure that it is going to the proper regional office. Passport requirements from country to country.

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Discussion Comments


@Mor - I don't think it's that much of a human rights issue. I mean, if you can afford to travel, you can afford to go through the passport application process. And having a passport doesn't really make life easier unless you want to travel. As an ID, I'd prefer to use a driver's license.


@umbra21 - It wasn't so bad when you used to be able to get a passport for ten years and I can kind of see their point when it comes to children, because they grow so quickly that they should have to go through the passport application process relatively frequently.

But after a while, all they are really doing is taking your money. I feel like being able to get a passport should be a human right, but a lot of people just can't afford it.


I find it extremely irritating that a lot of countries won't let you use a passport that is six months from expiration. I mean, they cost so much to renew or get in the first place and you only really get to keep them for five years most of the time. So, really, they are only useful for four and a half years, because of that rule.

I wish they would bring on the electronic era, where you have a passport that can be renewed without needing to get a whole new passport. So then you could get to six months and renew it for five years, and have five years and six months on it, rather than just having to throw away the six months that aren't able to be used.

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    • It's important to be accurate on a passport application.
      By: Popova Olga
      It's important to be accurate on a passport application.
    • A passport photo.
      By: mangostock
      A passport photo.
    • Applications should be filled out several months in advance of a planned international trip.
      By: Halfpoint
      Applications should be filled out several months in advance of a planned international trip.