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How Long Does It Take to Get a Passport?

Happy couple with passports

The question of how long it takes to get a passport depends on several factors including the number of applications that Passport Services has to process at the time you apply, the location where you apply, the type of service you need and the method of processing you choose. Take a look at each one of these and determine how they can affect the time it will take you to get a passport.

Passport Processing Times

The processing times for the Department of State Passport Services are modified according to the number of applications submitted at any given time. Some of the factors that affect the time it takes to process applications include holiday travel, natural disasters, international events, inclement weather, power outages and the closing of processing centers due to remodeling. All these factors can contribute to an increase in demand for passports and an extension in the processing times.

As the holiday season approaches, more and more Americans apply for passports in preparation for their vacations. The largest increases occur as summer vacation and winter break draw near. Also, natural disasters of large magnitude such as the tsunami in Asia or the earthquake in Haiti have the same affect. As family members and relief workers prepare to travel to the disaster location, Passport Services is flooded with requests. International events such as the Olympics and World Cup that draw visitors from around the world can also contribute to an increase in how long it takes to get a passport.

There have been times in the past when it could take up to 12 weeks or more to get a passport. As more processing centers opened and more personel were hired, processing times decreased to where they are today. More often than not, an application is processed in 10-12 weeks. A significant increase in submissions during peak travel periods can result in the time it takes to get a passport by standard service being increased to 6-8 weeks. Expedited service remains at 2-3 weeks although it can take longer. When demand is low, applications are processed more quickly. When demand is high, expect to wait longer.

Places to Get a Passport

The location you submit your passport application can determine how long it takes to get your travel document. Applications that are mailed in either directly or through a passport office can take up to 6 weeks for standard processing or up to 3 weeks if the applicant requests expedited service. Again, processing times are affected by the factors listed above.

United States citizens can apply at a regional agency in order to get a passport faster. Evidence of a departure date within two weeks is required or within four weeks if you also need to obtain a travel visa. Applicants can apply at the regional processing center themselves or they can authorize a qualified passport expediting service to submit their application forms for them. In either case, it is possible to obtain passports the same day that the forms are submitted, if necessary. In an emergency situation, a passport can be secured in just a few hours.

If you need to get a passport in a hurry but cannot visit a regional processing center, the expediter we recommend can help you to get a passport fast.

Types of Passport Services

The time it takes to get a passport renewed is the same time it takes to get a new passport if you only consider processing time. The overall time to get a renewal can be less because the renewal application can be mailed while the applicant is required to apply in person for a new passport. Depending on when an appointment is available at the nearest application acceptance facility, this can add a day or two up to several weeks to the total time. Some requests for a name change and corrections can be mailed without the need to visit a passport office.

Current Passport Application Processing Times

ServiceProcessing Time
Routine ServiceApproximately 10-12 weeks from the time of application.
Expedited ServiceWithin 4 to 6 weeks door-to-door.*
Expedited at AgencyPossibly same day (limited to customers who are traveling internationally in the next 72 hours or 3 business days)
* Applies when the applicant chooses two-way Express Delivery.

Note, mistakes on the application form or the submission of unacceptable documents can result in delays and increase the time it takes to get a passport. When this happens, the applicant is informed by mail of the problem and provided with a recommendation to resolve the issue. If the issue is not resolved within 90 days, the person will be required to apply again and pay appropriate fees to get a passport.

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