Who issues your U.S. passport?


Old U.S. passport

Old U.S. Passport. (State Department image, U.S. Diplomacy Center)

Have you ever applied for a passport? If so, you may have picked up and dropped off your application at a post office. But the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t process your request. All passport applications are received, reviewed, and granted (or not) through the U.S. Department of State.

A U.S. passport provides proof of American citizenship and allows Americans to visit other countries and re-enter the United States again.  

 

There are roughly 9,000 Passport Agencies throughout the United States where you can submit an application, including post offices, public libraries and county and city government offices.  

 

People wait in line outside the U.S. Passport Office in downtown Washington, DC

People wait in line outside the U.S. Passport Office in downtown Washington, D.C. (© AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The design and personal information contained in passports has changed through the years. Today passports include a photo of the passport holder, date and place of birth, and a chip with all of this information.  The chip enables the passport to be read electronically and also makes the passport more difficult to forge. Passports for adults are valid for 10 years.  Passports for children under 16 are valid for 5 years.