Getting a passport in the US is itself a laborious process, so you can imagine how it will be for those who want to apply for it from outside the US. The passport applications have to be sent to the respective US Embassy at your place of residence. Although the forms, supporting documentations, fees and the end outputs are the same, every Embassy or Consulate has its own procedure for submitting and the subsequent processing of your application forms. Instead of going by the general procedure, overseas applicants should be aware of the specific process of their specific US Embassy or Consulate.
Procedure for applying US passport when you are outside the US
Application form - Every passport application will come along with a set of instructions as to how to fill it up, where to send it, what the fee is and other important details. It is mandatory for applicants to strictly adhere to these for successful processing, except those who are living outside the US, at the time of applying. Since every US embassy will have its own guidelines, you should act according to those rather than following the general rules. These can be obtained from the website of that particular US Embassy.
You should note that it is also possible to apply for US passport card when you are outside the US. However, it will be useless if your travel mainly is through air transport. You can apply for both the card and the book, concurrently, at the same US Embassy.
Documents for proof - Every passport application should carry the proof of US citizenship status and other identification documents. All these should be sent to the US Embassy itself.
Photographs - The standard specifications of the photographs that should be submitted along with your application will be listed on the website of US Department of State.
Application Fee - The fee is the same for both the ways of applying. However, one major difference is in the mode of payment. While the local Acceptance Facilities accept the fee in the form of personal checks, the US Embassy will receive it only in the form of cash (in US or local currency). Some accept credit card payments also. So again, it is up to the discretion of that particular embassy which makes it all the more important for you to consult them before applying.
Processing of applications - The passport is printed in the US and sent to the applicant living out of the US. The major aspect regarding this is that there is no expedited processing facility for those who are applying from outside the US. However, US Embassies or Consulates' will issue passports with a limited validity in case of any emergency. Again, you have to approach the specific consulate for the correct information.
You will be asked to fill in your email address, as the US Department of State will send you intimation when your passport is ready. If you are living outside the US only for a temporary period, you need to fill in the US permanent residence on your application. This is not applicable if you have moved out of the US permanently.
If you have any queries that you want to clarify over the phone with an agent of the National Passport Information Center (toll free number), then you should understand that this facility is not applicable to you (when you are living outside the US). Again, the embassy is the place to go for help. If you are still unclear about the instructions given by the same, then you can contact the American Citizen Services unit through phone or e-mail.
When your US passport is ready, you may get it through a self-paid courier, mail service or you can go to the Embassy and pick it up in person.
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