How Passports Work

Major backups for the Passport Service.

Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Proving Your Identity

If you don't have any of the major forms of identification, you'll have to dig deeper to come up with documents the passport agent will accept. You will need a letter of no record. This document is issued by the state, confirming the name, date of birth, years searched for a record and that there is no birth certificate on file for the applicant. In addition, you'll want to take along as many of the following documents as you can.

Try to find other documentation of birth in the United States, such as a baptismal certificate, hospital birth certificate (this is not the same as the certified birth certificate issued by the state), census record, certificate of circumcision, early school record, family Bible record or a doctor's record of postnatal care. (This documentation must be a public record showing the date and place of birth and must have been created within the first five years of life. An affidavit or Form DS-10A from an older blood relative who has personal knowledge of your birth can be used but must be notarized or contain the seal and signature of the passport acceptance agent.)

Bring along any proof of identity, such as previous U.S. passport, certificate of citizenship or naturalization, current valid driver's license, government (city, state or federal) ID, military ID (for military and dependents), work ID (from current employer), student ID (must be currently enrolled), Merchant Marine card (also known as a "seamen's" or "Z" card), pilot or flight attendant ID.

Still no luck? Then try to get someone to vouch for you. This person must have known you for at least two years, must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have valid ID. That person will need to fill out Form DS-71 in front of the passport agent. The passport applicant must have some form of signature ID, such as a Social Security card, credit card, bank card or library card.

One more thing: Even though your Social Security card is not required by the passport application, it does ask for your Social Security number. (According to Passport Services, the Internal Revenue Service receives notification of those who decline to produce a Social Security card or number. They can be fined up to $500 for failure to provide this information, so remember to take your card along.)­