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One of the main responsibilities of the US Department of State is to issue passports. Which is probably the single most important document an international traveler can possess. If you are getting a passport for the first time you should start at the post office. There you can pick up applications. The passport lasts about 10 years before it needs to be renewed. If you are renewing your passport you can also do it at the post office. However, to avoid the lines you might want to consider doing it by mail. Just simply download the application from the US State Department website. Then pop it in the mail with 2 photos and proof of citizenship (birth certificate, passport or driver's license.) Usually, the processing and printing of your passport takes about a handful of weeks. In case of travel emergencies you can get your passport in the same day. However, you can only accomplish this at one of the US State Department offices around the country.