A Thorough Manual on Completing the DS-11 Application for a U.S. Passport

The U.S. passport is more than just a travel document; it represents your citizenship and provides access to the world. Whether you’re a first-time applicant or need to renew your passport, the DS-11 application form is a crucial step in obtaining this essential travel document. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the DS-11 form, breaking down its components, explaining the application process, and highlighting important details you need to know. By the end of this article, you’ll be well-prepared to successfully complete your DS-11 application for a U.S. passport.

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The DS-11 Form

The DS-11 form is the official application form for a U.S. passport. This document is provided by the U.S. Department of State, and it is the initial step to either obtain a new passport, replace a lost or stolen passport, renew an expired one, or update your existing passport. The form is available on the U.S. Department of State’s official website, and you can also find it at U.S. embassies and consulates.

To help you better understand the DS-11 form, let’s break down its key sections:

1. Personal Information: This section collects basic personal information such as your name, date of birth, and Social Security number.

2. Address Information: Here, you’ll provide your current mailing address. If you have had a different mailing address in the last three months, you should list it as well.

3. Contact Information: This section is where you’ll enter your phone number and email address. While these are optional, providing them can be helpful in case the U.S. Department of State needs to contact you regarding your application.

4. Date and Place of Birth: In this part, you’ll specify your place and date of birth.

5. Applicant’s Social Security Number: Although it’s optional, providing your Social Security Number helps in the passport application process.

6. Citizenship: This section deals with your citizenship status. If you acquired U.S. citizenship through naturalization or derivation, you’ll need to specify the relevant details.

7. Sex and Gender: You’ll specify your sex as male or female and also have the option to mark ‘X’ for gender if it doesn’t fit within the binary male/female categories.

8. Applicant’s Physique: This part collects information on your height, hair color, eye color, and any identifying marks or tattoos.

9. Additional Contact Information: Here, you can provide an alternate mailing address in case you’d like your passport to be sent elsewhere.

10. Employment: This section deals with your employment status. You’ll need to specify your current employer’s information and your occupation.

11. Emergency Contact Information: You should provide the details of someone to contact in case of an emergency.

12. Travel Plans: If you have immediate travel plans, you should mention the date of your departure and destination. However, this is optional, and you can apply for a passport even if you don’t have immediate travel plans.

13. Acknowledgment: This is where you sign and date the form, certifying the truth and accuracy of the information provided. If the applicant is a minor, a parent or legal guardian should sign on their behalf.

14. Payment Information: You’ll indicate how you will be paying the passport fees, either by check or money order, and provide the payment amount.

15. Special Issuance Information: This section is for individuals requesting a diplomatic or official passport.

16. Passport Book and Card Information: If you want to apply for both a passport book and a passport card, you’ll need to check the relevant boxes and provide additional information.

17. DS-64, Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport: If your previous passport was lost or stolen, you must complete a DS-64 form and submit it along with your DS-11 application.

18. Passport Photo: You’ll attach one passport photo that meets the U.S. Department of State’s specifications. It must be a recent, color photo that shows your full face, with a neutral facial expression, on a white or off-white background.

Completing the DS-11 Form

Filling out the DS-11 form may seem like a lot of information to provide, but it’s essential to ensure the accuracy of your application. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you complete the form:

1. Download the Form: Begin by downloading the DS-11 form from the official U.S. Department of State’s website (travel.state.gov). Make sure to use the latest version of the form.

2. Gather Required Documents: Before you start filling out the form, ensure you have all the necessary documents ready. You’ll need proof of U.S. citizenship (such as a birth certificate or naturalization certificate), proof of identity (a valid government-issued ID or driver’s license), a recent passport photo, and any other supporting documents like a DS-64 if your previous passport was lost or stolen.

3. Complete the Form: Carefully fill out the DS-11 form. Be sure to write legibly and provide accurate information. Review each section to confirm that everything is filled in correctly.

4. Photograph: Attach a recent passport photo to the designated space on the form. Make sure the photo meets the U.S. Department of State’s requirements.

5. Sign and Date: In the acknowledgment section, sign and date the form. If you’re completing the form on behalf of a minor, sign as the parent or legal guardian.

6. Payment: Determine the appropriate passport fees based on your specific application. Payment can be made by check or money order, payable to the “U.S. Department of State.”

7. Submit the Application: Once the form is completed, gather all the required documents and the application fee. Be sure to check the official website (travel.state.gov) for the latest fee information. You can then submit your application in one of the following ways:

  • In Person: Visit an official passport acceptance facility, which can include U.S. post offices, county clerk’s offices, and some public libraries. Bring your completed DS-11 form, documents, and payment. You may also be required to make an appointment in advance.
  • U.S. Embassy or Consulate: If you’re applying from abroad, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for instructions on how to submit your application.
  • Expedited Service: If you need your passport urgently, you can request expedited service for an additional fee. This option is available for both first-time applicants and those renewing their passports.

8. Proof of Travel: If you have immediate travel plans within 72 hours and need to expedite your application, you must provide proof of travel such as an airline ticket or itinerary.

9. Track Your Application: After submission, you can track the status of your application online through the U.S. Department of State’s official website. This will help you stay updated on the progress of your passport processing.

Common Questions and Concerns

Applying for a U.S. passport can be a straightforward process, but it’s common to have questions or concerns along the way. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers to help you navigate the DS-11 application:

  • Can I fill out the DS-11 form online?

You cannot fill out the DS-11 form online. However, you can complete the form online and then print it out, or you can obtain a physical copy from a passport acceptance facility.

  • Is the DS-11 form only for first-time applicants?

No, the DS-11 form is used for various purposes, including first-time applications, renewals, replacements for lost or stolen passports, and updates to existing passports.

  • What is the processing time for a U.S. passport application?

Processing times can vary, but routine processing typically takes 4-6 weeks. If you need it sooner, you can request expedited service, which takes around 2-3 weeks.

  • Can I expedite my passport application after submitting the DS-11 form?

Yes, you can request expedited service when submitting your DS-11 application. Be prepared to pay an additional fee for this service.

  • Do I need an appointment to submit my DS-11 application in person?

Many passport acceptance facilities require appointments, especially in larger cities. Check with the facility you plan to visit for their specific requirements and availability.

  • What should I do if my previous passport was lost or stolen?

If your previous passport was lost or stolen, you’ll need to complete a DS-64 form and submit it along with your DS-11 application.

  • Can I use a passport card instead of a passport book for travel?

A passport card is a limited-use travel document primarily designed for land and sea travel to and from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. It cannot be used for international air travel. For most international travel, you will need a passport book.


The DS-11 application for a U.S. passport is the gateway to international travel and proof of your American citizenship. Whether you’re obtaining your first passport, renewing an expired one, replacing a lost or stolen passport, or making updates to your existing passport, understanding and completing the DS-11 form correctly is essential.

This guide has provided a comprehensive overview of the DS-11 form, including its various sections and the steps to successfully complete the application process. By following these instructions and being well-prepared with the required documents, you can ensure a smooth and efficient passport application process.

Remember to stay informed about the latest information and fees by visiting the official U.S. Department of State website, as requirements and processes may change over time. Your U.S. passport is not just a travel document; it’s a symbol of your citizenship and a key to exploring the world.

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