When applying for a patent, you will need to determine the type of patent, how you will file (electronically versus mail), and if you will acquire the services of an attorney or file pro se (for yourself). Before doing any of this, it is suggested that you perform a patent search. The USPTO suggests the Seven Step Strategy. Below you will find information on what you will need in order to apply for a patent.
Image credit: USPTO
A provisional patent application allows you to file without a formal patent claim, oath or declaration, or any information disclosure (prior art) statement. Some other benefits include:
Note that a Provisional Application for Patent does not get examined and will not grant you a patent; it buys you time and you must file for a non-provisional utility patent within 12 months or risk abandoning your patent application.