Passports in California
If you plan to take an international flight, you will need to complete a passport application in California. You must go through an application process to obtain a passport card or book by visiting one of your local passport facilities or agencies.
The process may vary based on how urgently the applicant requires the passport. Your age will also affect what documents the Bureau of Consular Affairs will require to process the request.
There are additional passport application steps that California residents can complete. If you have to replace your lost passport and need to purchase a new one, you can do so at your local passport facility.
You may also need to go in person to get a passport name change. However, many passport-related tasks can be completed via mail once you meet eligibility requirements. Continue below to find a detailed overview of numerous services related to passports.
Where to Get a Passport in California
To complete the California passport application process, residents must apply in person if they meet one of the following qualifications:
- You are a first-time passport applicant.
- You are a minor under 16 years of age.
- You were previously issued a U.S. passport when you were under 16 years of age or more than 15 years ago.
Passport Acceptance Facilities
You can complete the passport application at a passport acceptance facility if you do not require an expedited passport. Passport acceptance facilities are ideal for individuals who do not have strict time constraints to receive the passport. While the passport acceptance facilities do provide expedited services, routine passport card or book applications are more common and can take over a month to process.
In California, facilities include post offices, libraries and county clerk offices. The application must be submitted in person. However, some county clerk facilities allow residents to submit the application form online and provide the required documents afterward in person.
California Passport Books vs. Cards
If you are looking to get a new passport, you might be wondering, “What is a passport book, and how does it differ from a passport card?” A passport card and book both serve as proof of U.S. citizenship and are valid identification documents. However, the former limits where citizens can travel.
The card only allows for domestic air travel and re-entry by land border crossings and seaports from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. Moreover, the card is smaller, about the size of a wallet and costs less. The passport book is valid for domestic and international travel by air, sea or land.
The fees to obtain and renew a passport book are also higher. If you have a lost passport card, for instance, you may use the book for identification purposes until you replace it. As such, some residents choose to obtain both for convenience.
How to Get a Passport in California
The process in getting a new passport in California varies depending on the applicant’s age. To obtain a passport card in California as a minor, parents or guardians must accompany you to the agency or facility. Minors, meaning individuals who are 15 years of age or younger, must present several documents, such as:
- A completed passport application
- Proof of U.S. citizenship including a birth certificate or certificate of naturalization from the state U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office.
- Proof of relationship between parent or guardian and minor, such as a birth certificate or adoption decree.
- A parent or guardian’s photo identification.
- A signed parental permission documentation form. Both parents must appear and sign together. If only one parent is present, they must submit a notarized consent statement from second parent or proof of sole authority.
- A passport photograph.
Applicants who are 16 or 17 years of age must present a completed application form, proper identification and passport photos. However, they must also present a consent statement from their parent or legal guardian. Adults will need to provide identification, passport photos and evidence of citizenship.
The passport card cost in California varies depending on the type of passport you are obtaining and the age of the applicant. The fees reflect the cost of the application, execution and processing. Child application fees are lower than those for adults.
U.S. Passport Renewals in California
There are two ways to renew your US passport in California: in person or via mail. Applicants must complete the process in person if:
- The passport has major damages.
- The passport’s issuance date is more than 15 years ago.
- The applicant was under 16 years of age when he or she applied for the passport.
- The passport does not reflect the applicant’s current name and he or she cannot provide proof of a name change.
In person, applicants will have to complete a new passport application form, as they are ineligible for the passport renewal option. The process via mail requires you to complete a renewal form and provide your personal information, including your Social Security Number. You must also attach a color photograph taken within the last six months, your old passport and fees.
Additionally, if your name has changed, you must include a certified copy of your certificate of marriage or court order. Once you have collected all of the necessary documentation, you must submit them in one large envelope to the National Passport Processing Center. If you need an expedited passport renewal, you must write, “EXPEDITE,” on the outside of the envelope.
How to Replace a Lost Passport in California
To replace a lost or stolen passport in California, you can visit a local passport agency or acceptance facility, depending on how urgently you need a passport replacement. The former option will provide you with a passport in less than three weeks while the latter will take longer. If you are outside of the United States, you must contact your local U.S. Embassy or consulate.
Replacing a lost passport generally requires presenting proof of identification, passport photos, evidence of U.S. citizenship and a completed lost passport form. Overseas, you will also have to provide your travel itinerary. It is important to note that California residents with a very damaged passport must go through this process to obtain a replacement passport.
Another important measure to take if your passport card or book is lost or stolen is immediately reporting it to the Bureau of Consular Affairs. Failure to do so leaves you at risk of identity theft. You may report it online, via mail or phone.
Note: Once the reporting process is complete, the passport is invalid for domestic and international travel.
How to Complete a Passport Update in California
There are several reasons why residents may need to obtain a passport update including a change of name, sex designation and errors on the passport. Each entails a different process and has its own eligibility requirements.
Sex Designation Change
There are two ways to complete a passport update in California for a sex designation change. If you have completed a clinical treatment for a sex change, you may obtain a passport that will last five or 10 years, depending on your age. However, if you are in the process of transitioning, then you will obtain a temporary limited-validity passport. To qualify for a passport update, applicants must complete a form and submit the following:
- An ID reflecting your current appearance
- A passport photo resembling your current appearance
- A medical certification to prove that the clinical treatment is complete or in process
- The proof of a legal name change, if applicable
Changing your name on your passport is a process that varies depending on when you request the passport update. If it is less than one year after the passport’s issuance date, you must complete a form, include your current passport, and provide an original or certified name change document and a passport photo. The last step is submitting it via mail to one of the US passport locations.
Applicants who make the request one year after the issuance date will have to complete a different form if they meet eligibility requirements. If they do not meet requirements, they must do it in person. Residents who are unable to prove the name change may need to submit an affidavit, along with other identification documents.
You may wonder, “How much does it cost to renew your passport with the updated information?” The answer is it depends on when you submit the request. In some cases, there are no fees, while in others, applicants will pay the same fee they would if they were a first-time applicant.
Data or Printing Error
A passport update is important if the passport has incorrect information, as that may prevent you from using it for identification purposes. To remedy this problem, you must submit a completed form by mail, along with a photo in color and evidence of the error. If the Bureau is responsible for the error, there is no charge to obtain a replacement passport.
California Expedited Passport Service
Passport agencies will generally provide an expedited passport in emergency situations and require an appointment. To apply at a passport agency, residents must meet certain requirements, such as:
- Having proof that they are traveling internationally in less than two weeks.
- Having immediate need for foreign visa in four weeks.
- Demonstrating an error in a passport that was recently issued.
California residents must contact their local agency to set an appointment for the expedited passport service. Some agencies offer special passport days during which residents may get routine and expedited services without an appointment. The US passport fees vary depending on the type of application, and the applicant’s age will also affect the overall cost of the application.