In February, the U.S. Passport Agency introduced new prices, cutting costs for some services, raising them for others.
* How to apply: Travelers must provide two new 2-by-2-inch photos (with the applicant's head against a white or off-white background). To confirm identification, officials generally require a driver's license. To demonstrate citizenship, they generally require a birth certificate, naturalization certificate or previous passport.
* Where to apply: In Southern California, from Bakersfield and San Luis Obispo south, about 65 post offices serve as application acceptance facilities. Ask for official locations at your local post office, or call the National Passport Information Center at (900) 225-5674 (costs 35 cents per minute). A recorded-information system operates around the clock; operators are available on weekdays 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. The same office can be reached at (888) 362-8668 (costs a flat $4.95, payable with credit card number).
* Processing time: In ordinary cases, the goal of the U.S. Passport Office is to process applications within 25 days. Officials at the Southern California headquarters office (11000 Wilshire Blvd. in Westwood) say they usually process passports within two to three weeks during the winter months, but in the busy summer months waits can reach four to six weeks.
* Internet address: The Department of State's Internet site, http://travel.state.gov, includes state-by-state listings of all post office passport acceptance facilities. The site also includes blank passport forms that can be downloaded to many home computers.
* Cost: For first-time applicants and those age 16 and over, the application fee is generally $60. For adult travelers renewing a passport issued within the last 12 years: $40. New passports for children under 16: $40. Amendments (name changes, for instance) and addition of pages: free.
To expedite a passport request, the cost is an additional $35. The expedited passport will be mailed within three working days of the request's arrival at an agency office.