A valid passport is required of U.S. citizens departing from the United States for any destination outside of North, South or Central America and for entering the United States from outside the United States. A passport is not required for travel by U.S. Citizens to any territory or waters, continental or insular, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States (including Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands.) As of June 1, 2009, it is required to have a US Passport to travel to any location outside of the United States.
The Clerk of Courts Office is the local government agency that may accept applications for passports. That application is then passed on to one of the passport services designated by the Secretary of State. The application is then reviewed, and is then issued or denied, and returned to the applicant by mail. During peak travel periods, this process may take four to six-week, so allow plenty of time before you intend to travel.