You have until Jan 25th to apply for a passport using regular processing. If you can't get it done by then you need to get your application in by Feb 12th.
A valid passport is REQUIRED by all U.S. citizens of all ages returning BY AIR from any international destination.
If you do not already have your passport you need to get in gear and get one if you are planning to travel outside the U.S. for Spring Break. Processing time for a first time passport request is 4-6 weeks after your application is submitted. You must furnish an original Citizenship Evidence,which may also take a couple of weeks.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requires all U.S. citizens, Canadian citizens, citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, and Mexican citizens, to have a passport or other designated secure document to enter or re-enter the United States.
The government of Mexico, many other countries require that all U.S. and Canadian citizens present a valid passport when entering the country via international flight. Driver's permits, voter registration cards, affidavits and similar documents are no longer accepted to prove citizenship.
To obtain a passport for the first time, you need to go in person to one of 7,000 passport acceptance facilities located throughout the United States with two photographs of yourself, proof of U.S. citizenship, and a valid form of photo identification such as a driver’s license.
Acceptance facilities include many Federal, state and probate courts, post offices, some public libraries and a number of county and municipal offices. If you wait until the last minute, there are also 13 regional passport agencies, and 1 Gateway City Agency, which serve customers who are traveling within 2 weeks (14 days), or who need foreign visas for travel. Appointments are required in such cases.
You’ll need to apply in person if you are applying for a U.S. passport for the first time: if your expired U.S. passport is not in your possession; if your previous U.S. passport has expired and was issued more than 15 years ago; if your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under age 16; or if your currently valid U.S. passport has been lost or stolen.
Starting as of November 1st, 2016, anyone applying for or renewing their passport must remove glasses for their passport photo.
If you are wearing glasses in the photo of your in your current/unexpired passport, don't worry about it. You don't have to get a new passport now.
It took four years of study by the State Department to finalize the design of a new e-Passport with an embedded RF tag in the back cover. The chip will securely store the same data visually displayed on the photo page of the passport, and will additionally include a digital photograph. The inclusion of the digital photograph will enable biometric comparison, through the use of facial recognition technology at international borders.
Because this technology is not available at U.S. embassies and consulates, US passports will no longer be issued abroad.
Since August of 2007, the U.S. has been issuing only e-Passports. According to the State Department , "Passports without chips will still be valid for the full extent of their validity period."
Over the next 12 months, it is estimated 15 million U.S. citizens will be issued passports containing the RFID chip. As current passports begin to expire, the newly issued replacements will also include the RF tag, so within 10 years, all U.S. passports will incorporate an RFID.
The New US Passport Card
The new wallet-size U.S. Passport Card is a travel document that you can use to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry. Note that it cannot be used for international air travel. The passport card is more convenient and less expensive than a passport book. The cost is only $20 dollars if you request it when you submit your regular passport application.