The initial application process takes only a few minutes and can usually be completed online. The first thing you must do is make sure you are eligible. The primary requirement is that you are a US citizen. If you are a permanent resident in the US, you will use a passport from your homeland.
If you were not born in the US, but you became a citizen later in life, you will need to present a Certificate of Citizenship or a Naturalization Certificate.
Most applicants get their passport photos take at their local drugstore. At some places that accept passport applications, the person who processes the application can take a photo for you. This may cost extra, but it is a convenient option, and it ensures that your photo will meet the requirements.
If you are simply renewing your passport instead of applying for the first time, you can expect to pay a fee of only $110.
The acceptable payment methods also vary. For example, credit and debit cards are not accepted at some facilities, but they are accepted at official passport agencies.
The 2 above mentioned application methods are for people who live in the United States or Canada. If you live outside the US or Canada, you will follow a different process, which is outlined here. You'll likely have to get in touch with the local US Embassy or Consulate.
Usually, you must apply for a passport in person. 1 exception to this is if you are renewing an old, eligible adult passport. In this case, you may apply through the mail. Note that if you had a passport as a child — when you were younger than 16 — you cannot renew that passport through the mail.
Note that some facilities require applicants to schedule a passport appointment ahead of time.
When you apply for the passport at a Passport Acceptance Facility, you'll have to wait between 3 and 6 weeks to get it. If you want it to be closer to the 3-week mark, you'll have to pay an extra fee of $60.
After you apply for a passport, you can check your application's status here.