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How Long Does It Take To Get A Passport?

Friday, August 12th

How Long Does It Take to Get a Passport?

If traveling abroad is on the agenda in the near future, now is the time to start the process of applying for a passport.

A passport is a document which is issued by a national government as a means of identification for the person who holds it. It certifies the identity and nationality of the person listed on the document, which is important when traveling internationally.

In the United States, passports are issued through one of the State Department's 14 passport issuing centers. They also can be issued through clerks at federal and state courts, designated post offices and U.S. consular authorities in foreign countries for citizens who are living abroad. Persons applying for a passport must provide proof of citizenship and residency at the time of the application, as well as a passport-specific photo. Acceptable proof of citizenship and residency includes an original birth certificate or notarized copy and a valid driver's license.

Passport-specific photos also are required at the time of application. Be sure to use a photographer who is qualified to take passport photos, as there are specific requirements for how a person must appear in them in order for them to be valid for usage.

If it is your first time obtaining a passport, there are a few things to know prior to applying. First and foremost, you must apply in person at a passport-issuing agency. A copy of your original birth certificate, or a notarized copy, must be presented at the time of application. You also will need proof of residency, such as a driver's license, a pay stub or utility bills. A passport-appropriate photo also must accompany your passport application. Applications can be received in person at a passport-issuing agency, or downloaded online from the U.S. Department of State website.

Others who must apply in person are those under the age of 16, or if your first passport was issued when you were under 16. If your original passport was lost or stolen, you also are required to appear in person to request a new one. Also, if you have married or recently changed your name, you must appear in person to request an updated passport.

Those who are simply replacing an expiring passport can complete the process entirely online. A passport renewal application (form DS-82) is available on the U.S. Department of State website. The old passport must be sent in with the renewal application in order for the renewal to be processed.

Processing times for passports vary depending on the season and the demand for new or replacement passports occurring at that time. In 2009, when the United States changed travel rules requiring passports to travel between the United States and Canada, there was an influx of new passport applications which bogged down the system. At that time, it was reported that passports were taking roughly four to five months to process.

Currently, routine passports are being processed in approximately four to six weeks, according to processing information provided by the U.S. Department of State. Passport expediting services, however, can shorten this time to as little as 24 hours. As processing times are subject to change, it is best to check the U.S. Department of State's website prior to applying for or renewing an existing passport. If you know travel which would require a passport is in the near future, do not wait to apply, or consider using a passport expediting service in order to get the passport sooner.

Passports expire every 10 years for citizens over the age of 18 and every five years for those under 18. Upon expiration, passports must be replaced if the holder wishes to continue having one. Because people change in appearance with age, passports cannot simply be renewed, but must be completely replaced, including with an updated photo of the passport holder.

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Passport Service FAQ

If you are a US citizen traveling outside of the country, you will need a passport. The only exceptions are US territories like Puerto Rico, the USVI, American Samoa and Guam. Gone are the days of traveling to Canada or Mexico with just a birth certificate in hand!
That depends on your destination. There are over 170 countries that do not require a visa for US citizens to enter, but nations such as China, Brazil and Chile have visa requirements.
If you were at least 16 years old when you got your passport, it will be valid for 10 years from the date of issue. On the other hand, if you were under 16, it will only be valid for 5 years.
Fees for a passport can change at any time, but historically they've been set at $110 for an adult and $80 for a minor (under the age of 16). You may also have service fees charged by the location where you submit your application (e.g. the Post Office or local governmental facility), and you'll need to submit regulation passport photos.
First, report a lost or stolen passport to the US State Department (which can be done online or via phone at 877-487-2778). Next, if you are still in the US, you can apply for a replacement following the same procedures as a regular application. Or, if you are outside of the US, you should contact the nearest US embassy or consulate to get a replacement.
You can pay a $60 expedite fee and an extra $17.56 for 1-2 day delivery, but even then the State Department says your passport can take up to 6 weeks! If you have international travel scheduled within 72 hours, you may be able to get an in-person appointment - but in that case, as well as in the event of having a trip coming within that 6-week wait time, your best bet is probably to use a passport service.
A passport service handles all of the paperwork and appointments to get your passport in hand. Believe it or not, it's possible to get your passport in hand within 24 hours!
They're more affordable than you might think, especially if you've got a trip that would be cancelled (with no refund!) without a passport in hand. You can get a one-business-day turnaround for under $300, and some passport services even offer emergency (same business day) options for that amount too. Keep in mind that those fees don't always include what the State Department charges for passport processing, or the expedited shipping to get your passport to you that quickly.

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  • Passport Visas Express
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