Passport and Visa | Webster University

Passport and Visa

Applying for a Passport

What is a passport?

A passport is a government issued ID that is recognized all over the world, and it’s required for you to have if you plan on leaving the country. Think of it as your “ticket to world travel.” You’ll need your passport before you can apply for any entry or study visas you might need as well. Applying for your passport is your crucial “Step 1” to studying abroad.  Obtaining a passport can take quite a bit of time and can delay the visa process and flight reservations, so if you are planning on studying abroad and have not yet applied for your passport, you should do so immediately.

How do I apply?

If you have never applied for a passport or if you received your current passport before you were 16 years old, you’ll need to apply for a new one, in person, at a US Post Office or other authorized passport acceptance facility. Your new passport will be valid for 10 years. Please follow the steps below to apply for your passport:

Step 1. Gather Your Documents

Make sure you have everything you need when you go to submit your passport application so you don’t have to take two trips! The US Department of State website explains in detail what you’ll need to bring with you when you apply for your passport. See the necessary documentation here.

Step 2. Prepare Your Application Package

Once you’ve gathered the necessary documentation, you’ll need to print and complete your Form DS-11 Application for U.S. Passport. Remember that you must NOT sign your passport application until you submit the application at the Post Office. A Postal employee must witness the signature. You’ll need to have a passport photo taken as well. Don’t forget to calculate your passport fees, create photocopies of your ID and citizenship documents, and bring a 2x2 passport photo.

Step 3. Submit Your Application

Post Offices and other passport acceptance facilities have set hours for passport services, and some locations require appointments. Use the PO Locator Tool in order to find a location that will process your application. Many of these locations will take your 2x2 passport photo on site as well.

Important Notes

  • Your passport application can take from 6-8 weeks to process. If you are departing from the United States within 5 months of applying for your passport, you will need to apply for expedited processing.
  • Your passport must still be valid 6 months after you return to the US from your study abroad experience. If you currently have a passport that will expire before this time, you will need to have your passport renewed. Click here for instructions on how to renew your passport by mail.
  • A passport is not the same as a visa, and you’ll need to have your passport before you can apply for a visa. If you plan to study abroad in a country that requires a student visa, you will be guided through the visa application process by the OSA staff.