Whether they’re from Philadelphia or Harrisburg, all Pennsylvanians are required to have a U.S. passport for international travel. U.S. passports are travel documents issued by the United States Department of State. They contain information about a U.S. citizen such as their photograph, name, date of birth and their local address. In addition to working as travel documents, passports can be used as proof of citizenship.

Travelling to other countries from the United States by land, sea or air is only permitted with a valid U.S. passport. Travel visas are stamped in passports in order to prove that travelers are authorized to enter the respective nations that issued the visas. Passports allow American citizens access to various U.S. embassy and consular services while they are abroad. After travelers have completed their expeditions, their passport is the key to re-entering the United States.

Where to Get a New Passport in Pennsylvania

When you are applying to get a new U.S. passport in Pennsylvania, you must submit your request in person. Passport acceptance facilities are typically located at libraries, courthouses, post offices and other government buildings. Some post offices also provide passport photos if you did not take any beforehand. Getting a new passport in Pennsylvania should not be difficult with approximately 260 acceptance facilities located throughout the state.

Most Pennsylvania passport acceptance facilities have established business hours and may require you to schedule an appointment before visiting. Find a passport office near you and call ahead to schedule an appointment. On the other hand, offices that accept walk-ins might have extended wait times.

Note: This process only applies if you are getting a new passport. Passport renewal applications must be submitted by mail.

Pennsylvania Passport Books vs Cards

United States passports are now available to residents as either a passport book or a passport card. Both types contain identifying information such as the photograph, name, date of birth and home address of the passport holder. Passports have been the standard citizenship and travel documents for the United States for a while, but what is a passport book and how is it different than a passport card?

Passport Books

Before you can travel internationally by air, sea, or land you must have a U.S. passport book. A passport book is a small booklet with an official United States seal on the navy blue cover. Your passport book will have empty pages available for visa stamps, which grant you permission to travel to a different nation. Unlike a standard Pennsylvania driver’s license, passport books are also Real ID compliant and can be used for domestic air travel.

Passport Cards

Your passport card is a plastic wallet-sized card that can also be used as a travel document, albeit with more limited uses. Land or sea travel to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean are the only circumstances where your passport card can be used as identification. Additionally, a passport card costs less than a passport book and is also Real ID compliant. If they meet all of your travel requirements, a card can be a sensible alternative to the regular passport booklet.

How to Get a Passport in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has the same passport application requirements as the rest of the United States. In order to be eligible to apply, you must be able to prove your U.S. naturalization or citizenship. Provided that you are eligible, the application methods for new passports and passport renewals have some differences.

If you are applying for a new passport, you must submit your application at an acceptance facility. Otherwise, your application for a passport replacement or renewal will only be accepted by mail. You will need to apply for a new passport in person if you:

  • Are applying for your first passport.
  • Are applying to replace a damaged, misplaced or stolen passport.
  • Are younger than 16 years old.
  • Were issued your most current passport when you were younger than 16 years old.
  • Were issued your most current passport over 15 years ago.

Required Documents

Whether you have a scheduled appointment or you choose to walk-in, it is essential that you bring all of the required documents to the passport office. The documents necessary to complete your application include:

  • A complete application
  • Proof of citizenship or naturalization
  • An acceptable photo ID, like a driver’s license
  • A color photo for your passport
  • Payment for the appropriate S. passport fees

Child Passport Requirements

When you apply for a child’s U.S. passport, there are additional documents that are required during the application. During the application, you must prove your relationship to the child and both parents must appear in person. If a parent cannot appear, they must sign a consent form which will be submitted along with the request.

U.S. Passport Renewals in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania residents looking to renew a U.S. passport are required to complete their application by mail. In order to be eligible for a passport renewal, they must have their most recent passport and it must be undamaged other than regular wear and tear. Additionally, their passports must have been issued within the last 15 years in their current name, and they must have been issued when the applicants were 16 years or older.

To complete the process, applicants must include the following items in a sealed envelope and mail it to a National Passport Processing Center:

  • Their current passport
  • Their passport renewal form
  • A color passport photo
  • Payment for the renewal fees

How to Replace a Lost Passport in Pennsylvania

Whether you have a lost, stolen or damaged passport, you will need to get it replaced before you are allowed to travel internationally. In each of these cases, you can apply for a new passport at any passport acceptance facility. However, if you have a stolen or lost passport, filing a report will void your misplaced passport and protect you from identity theft. If you are not travelling, you can replace your lost passport at your earliest convenience, but be sure to file a report as soon as possible. Reports can be submitted:

  • Online on the U.S. Department of State’s passport website.
  • By mail after printing, completing and signing a lost passport form.
  • Over the phone by calling the National Passport Information Center.

How to Complete a Passport Update in Pennsylvania

Performing a passport name change to update your information can be necessary after life events like a marriage or divorce. Depending on your specific situation, the process to update your passport might vary.

  • If you are requesting a passport update less than one year after your passport was issued, you can submit your application and obtain an updated passport without having to pay any fees.
  • If you are requesting a passport update more than one year after your passport was issued, you must complete the application in person and provide certified name change documents.
  • If you are currently using your new name but cannot record it with a certified document, you must have two other people vouch for your name change. They must have known you by both names and they may need to sign an affidavit regarding your name change. Furthermore, you must submit three certified or original public records that prove you have used your new name for at least five years.

Note: If you are updating your passport due to a data or printing error, you can have it corrected for no charge if the passport is still valid.

Pennsylvania Expedited Passport Service

Sometimes urgent situations arise and you need to order an expedited passport to speed up your application’s processing time. You can order expedited services using three different methods, each with their own processing time. Pennsylvania expedited passport services can be requested for:

  • Standard passport applications.
    • All standard applications can be expedited for a fee.
    • You will usually receive your passport in less than four weeks.
  • Urgent travel plans.
    • You must make an appointment at your nearest passport agency in Philadelphia.
    • You must provide proof of your travel plans when you submit your request.
    • You will usually receive your passport within two weeks.
  • Life-or-death emergencies.
    • For emergency international travel within 72 hours.
    • Call the National Passport Information Center and ask for their emergency passport service.
    • You must provide the standard passport application
    • You will need to provide proof of the emergency.
    • Your will receive your passport within one to two days.
Last updated on Tuesday, September 25 2018.

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