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U.S. Government Info for Passports

Government agency sources are provided to Foreign Entry Requirements, and Passport Acceptance Agents, with links to numerous forms for identification requirements, photo requirements, and for applications. ‘The government’s privacy policy and the security of applicants’ personal documents are examined in detail.
These pages provide information about government-standard information and requirements.

Acceptance Agents

Provided by the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Passport Services/Customer Service, the site given below will help you find the nearest location of acceptance agents in your area. You can either search by providing your Zip Code or your State and City.

Birth Certificate

VitalCheck Express is a simple, fast, secure, and authorized source for government-certified vital records. Please visit their site if you need to obtain a copy of your Birth Certificate.
VitalCheck Express

Photo Requirements

Your photo is a vital part of your passport application. To learn more, review the information below on how to provide a suitable photo to avoid passport processing delays. The acceptance of your photo is always at the discretion of the U.S. passport agency.

We recommend you use a professional passport photo service to ensure your photo meets all the requirements.

If you are applying for a U.S. Passport, you must provide one (1) photo. Your passport photo must be:

  • In color
  • Glasses are not allowed as of Nov 2016
  • Excessive makeup is not allowed
  • Hair must not be dangling over the eyeballs
  • Both eyeballs must be seen and visible
  • Printed on photo-quality paper
  • 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) in size
  • Sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches
    (between 25 and 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head. View the Photo Composition Template for more size requirement details.
  • Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
  • Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background
  • Taken in full-face view directly facing the camera
  • With a neutral facial expression and both eyes open
  • Taken in clothing that you normally wear on a daily basis:
    • Uniforms should not be worn in your photo, except religious clothing that is worn daily.
    • Do not wear a hat or head covering that obscures the hair or hairline unless worn daily for a religious purpose. Your full face must be visible, and the head covering must not cast any shadows on your face.
    • Headphones, wireless hands-free devices, or similar items are not acceptable in your photo.
    • Glare on the photo is not acceptable.

Review the Photo Examples to see examples of acceptable and unacceptable photos. Photos copied or digitally scanned from driver’s licenses or other official documents are not acceptable. In addition, snapshots, magazine photos, low-quality vending machine or mobile phone photos, and full-length photographs are not acceptable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Photographer’s Guide

Photo Composition Template

Taking photos of your baby or toddler

When taking a photo of your baby or toddler, no other person should be in the photo, and your child should be looking at the camera with his or her eyes open.

Tip 1: Lay your baby on his or her back on a plain white or off-white sheet. This will ensure your baby’s head is supported and provide a plain background for the photo. Make certain there are no shadows on your baby’s face, especially if you will take a picture from above with the baby lying down.

Tip 2: Cover a car seat with a plain white or off-white sheet and take a picture of your child in the car seat. This will also ensure your baby’s head is supported.

Change of Appearance

Your passport may not be accepted at the border if your appearance has changed significantly or if you cannot be identified from the photo in your current passport.

If you cannot be identified from your current passport photo, you should apply for a new passport, even if your old one has not yet expired (appropriate fees required).

You may have to apply for a new passport if, from the time of your last passport photo, you have:

  • Undergone significant facial surgery or trauma.
  • Added or removed numerous/large facial piercings or tattoos.
  • Undergone a significant amount of weight loss or gain.
  • Made a gender transition.

If you feel that you can still be identified from the photo in your current passport, you do not need to apply for a new passport. For example, growing a beard or coloring your hair would not constitute a significant change.

If the appearance of your child under the age of 16 has changed due to the normal aging process, you do not need to apply for a new passport for him or her.

Secondary U.S. Citizenship


If you cannot present primary evidence of U.S. citizenship, you must submit secondary evidence of U.S. citizenship. Determine what form of secondary evidence is most appropriate for your situation based on the descriptions below.

Early Public Records

If you were born in the United States and cannot present primary evidence of U.S. citizenship, submit a combination of early public records as evidence of your U.S. citizenship. Early public records must be submitted with a birth record or Letter of No Record. Early public records should show your name, date of birth, and place of birth, and preferably be created within the first five years of your life. Examples of early public records are:

  • Baptismal certificate
  • Hospital birth certificate
  • Census record
  • Early school record
  • Family bible record
  • Doctor’s record of post-natal care

Early Public Records are not acceptable when presented alone.

Delayed Birth Certificate

If you were born in the United States and cannot present primary evidence of U.S. citizenship because your U.S. Birth Certificate was not filed within the first year of your birth, you may submit a Delayed U.S. Birth Certificate. A Delayed U.S. Birth Certificate filed more than one year after your birth may be acceptable if:

  • It lists the documentation used to create it (preferably early public records) and
  • It is signed by the birth attendant or lists an affidavit signed by the parents

If your Delayed U.S. Birth Certificate does not include these items, it should be submitted together with Early Public Records.

Letter of No Record

If you were born in the United States and cannot present primary evidence of U.S. citizenship because you do not have a previous U.S. passport or a certified U.S. birth certificate of any kind, you must present a state-issued Letter of No Record showing:

  • Your name
  • Your date of birth
  • The years for which a birth record was searched
  • Acknowledgment that no birth certificate was found on file

A Letter of No Record must be submitted together with Early Public Records.

Form DS-10: Birth Affidavit

If you were born in the United States and cannot present primary evidence of U.S. citizenship, you may submit Form DS-10: Birth Affidavit as evidence of your U.S. citizenship. The birth affidavit:

  • Must be notarized
  • Must be submitted in person with Form DS-11
  • Must be submitted together with early public records
  • Must be completed by an affiant who has personal knowledge of birth in the U.S.
  • Must state briefly how the affiant’s knowledge was acquired
  • Should be completed by an older blood relative

NOTE: If no older blood relative is available, it may be completed by the attending physician or any other person who has personal knowledge of your birth

Foreign Birth Documents + Parent(s) Citizenship Evidence

If you claim citizenship through birth abroad to U.S. citizen parent(s), but cannot submit a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth, you must submit all of the following:

  • Your foreign birth certificate (translated to English)
  • Evidence of citizenship of your U.S. citizen parent
  • Your parents’ marriage certificate
  • A statement of your U.S. citizen parent detailing all periods and places of residence or physical presence in the United States and abroad before your birth


  • See Documentation of U.S. Citizens Born Abroad for additional information.
  • For information on foreign-born children adopted by U.S. citizens, see the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
  • Foreign language documents should be accompanied by an informal or formal English translation.

Unacceptable Documents

The following will not be accepted as secondary evidence of U.S. citizenship:

  • Voter registration card
  • Army discharge paper
  • Social Security Card

Secondary U.S. Identification


A Combination of Identifying Documents

Present a combination of documents that can be used to verify your personal identity. These documents are not acceptable as secondary identification when presented alone.

Example: Social Security Card + Credit Card + Employee ID + Library Card

An Identifying Witness

An identifying witness is a person who can swear to your identity. He or she must:

  • Be present at the time of application
  • Have known you for at least 2 years
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Have valid ID
  • Fill out Form DS-71: Affidavit of Identifying Witness in the presence of a Passport Agent

NOTE: Form DS-71 is only available at your local Acceptance Facility or a Passport Agency.

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