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

If I go to a regional agency, will I walk out with my new passport?

Question: I leave for Belize in less than 3 weeks. If I come in to the agency the day before my departure date, will I walk out with my new passport that day? I thought the rule was your passport was OK to fly with if it is valid for 3 months after travel. Now I hear it's 6 months.

Answer: Yes, it is true that all United States citizens are required to have a U.S. passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of arrival in Belize.

You must also provide proof of return to the U.S. You are not required to obtain a visa to Belize if you plan to visit for tourism and will not stay more than 30 days.

Concerning the regional passport agency, it is possible to leave the processing center with your passport but there is no guarantee. Much depends on the number of applications the agency receives that day and how urgent they are. Life and death emergencies have priority over tourism travel.

The State Department "requires" applicants to schedule an appointment prior to visiting the agency. However, they usually allow American citizens to apply without an appointment if you can present proof of urgent travel.

One way to guarantee that you receive your passport prior to your departure date is to employ the services of a professional expediter. The fee for this service varies depending on how fast you want to get your passport and is in addition to the application fee of $110 and expedited service fee of $60 paid to the Department of State.

UPDATE: Belize requires that U.S. Passports be valid for the entire duration of stay. Passports are not required, though recommended, for travelers visiting the country via closed-loop cruise.

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COVID-19 UPDATE: Mailing delays are impacting passport processing. The Department of State's processing times begin when applications are received at a passport agency or center and not when you mail them or apply at a local acceptance facility. Standard service may take between 8 and 11 weeks. This timeframe does not include delivery time. Mailing times vary across the country.

Expedited service takes from 5 to 7 weeks exluding mailing times on the front and back end. Mailing delays may be significant so requesting 1-2-day mailing may greatly help.

Regional passport agencies are offering extremely limited in-person services if you need to travel internationally in the next 72 hours. Those with qualified life-or-death emergencies are prioritized.

Life-or-death emergencies are serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family (parent, legal guardian, child, spouse, sibling, and grandparent) that require you to travel outside the United States within 72 hours (3 business days).

If you need to travel due to a qualified life-or-death emergency, please call the National Passport Information Center for an appointment:

Mondays through Fridays 8 AM to 5PM, call ET 1-877-487-2778 (TDD/TTY:1-888-874-7793) Outside of these hours, 202-647-4000

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