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How can an expedited passport application take longer than usual?

Question: On your website it states that an expedited passport application + fee could in some cases take longer than usual. What does that mean? I am trying to see if the fee is worth the cost.


Answer: The "usual" time for expedited passport service (unless you apply at a regional agency) is 2-3 weeks. This is established by the State Department and can change without prior notice.

There are many reasons why expedited service can take longer than the normal 2-3 weeks. It is not uncommon for applicants to forget to include payment with their application. This can delay the process. Incomplete applications or unacceptable documents can also result in delays.

Processing times can increase just prior to and during peak travel periods such as winter holidays, spring break and summer vacation.

Changes in passport requirements often result in an increase in the number of applications and, as a consequence, an increase in processing time.

Major international events or disasters can also be responsible for increasing the time it takes to get a passport. Most recently, there was a significant increase in applications submitted due to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

The point is that the vast majority of applicants who request expedited service receive their passports within 2-3 weeks. However, this is not guaranteed and, for the reasons mentioned above, it could take longer.

Note, the same reasons cited above can increase the processing time for routine service as well. Usually, routine service takes 4-6 weeks. It can take longer and, in the not too distant past, took up to 12 weeks.

The fastest way to get a passport is to apply at a regional passport agency or, if you can't get there yourself, have a passport expediter submit your application for you.

Return to Passport Expediting FAQ.

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