Important Due to Covid-19, processing times for passports are taking longer than normal for both standard and expedited services.

Applying for a Passport at a Post Office

Unites States Post Office
Of the more than 7,000 passport application acceptance facilities located in the United States and its territories, the vast majority can be found in local post offices. The U.S. Postal Service began offering this service a few decades ago, due to the significant increase in American citizens who were applying for passports. County clerks and other state and municipal government offices alone could not handle the demand.

Just a few years ago, another significant increase in the number of applications submitted occurred when the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was instituted.

In 2015 alone, there were 15,556,216 passport books issued. That is a 1,468,875 difference from the 2014 figures. This year-over-year increase did not let up. There were over 20 million passports issued in each of the years from 2017-2019.

As of 2020, there were a total of more than 143 million valid passports in circulation. If you plan to join this group and get your passport for the first time (or you need a new passport because your last one was issued more than 15 years ago) there is a good chance that you will be applying at a post office. Below are a few tips to guarantee that you get it done without a hitch.

Tip #1: Schedule an Appointment at the Post Office

We frequently receive correspondence from individuals who have visited a post office to submit a new passport application only to discover that an appointment was required. Post offices often change their hours of operation or close their passport services. So, the first step is to schedule an appointment online.

Passport Services more than 20 million passport applications are processed every year. Add to that the fact that the number of facilities has significantly decreased from 8,400, just a few years ago, to a little over 7,000 today. Given this situation, the growing demand has made it almost impossible for acceptance facilities to keep up. Therefore, we recommend that you look for a walk-in passport office near you.

Tip #2: Choose Your Appointment Time Wisely

This tip is especially important for applicants who live in large cities and plan to visit a high-traffic post office. Having an appointment does not guarantee that you will be attended to at that exact time. You still may have to wait in line. Be sure to schedule sufficient time in your day for this task. If possible, choose a time when there is less traffic. Contact the local facility for recommendations.

Tip #3: Double Check Your Documents

It can be frustrating to arrive at the post office and wait your turn only to be told that there is a problem with the application form, one of your supporting documents, or the passport photo. Be sure to verify the current passport requirements and make certain that your passport photo meets the required specifications. An unacceptable photo is one of the principal reasons why passport applications are delayed.

Bonus Tip: Get Your Photo Taken at the Passport Office

Not every post office offers photo service, but there are a lot of them that do. Ask if the post office where you plan to apply offers on-site passport photo service. If they do, you can save yourself a lot of time.

Processing Time at Post Offices

Standard passport processing is estimated to take 4 to 6 weeks. Expect to wait 6 weeks or possibly more during peak travel periods. Starting in January and going through the summer months, demand is very high and the total time to get a passport can increase significantly, especially if there are any problems with your application form or supporting documents.

To ensure speedy processing of your passport application, you can request expedited service at the post office where you apply. While there is an additional fee of $60, it will decrease the processing time to only 2 to 3 weeks. You can even add an optional fee to your payment for overnight delivery of your new passport.


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