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

The No-Fee Passport Rules

Official U.S. passport with brown cover.A look around the U.S. State Department's travel website will reveal the words "no-fee passport" here and there. If you have ever wondered why you pay $145 (application fee + execution fee) for your passport book when such a thing as a no-fee passport exists, here's why. No-fee passports are only issued to those going overseas for the express purpose of working in some capacity for the U.S. Government. A benefit of this responsibility is the no-fee passport for the government worker and his or her dependents who are traveling along.

These no-fee passports are issued by the Special Issuance Agency of the U.S. State Department, and are assigned according to three types that are determined by the nature of the applicant's work; regular no-fee, diplomatic, and official. The type of no-fee passport depends upon the reason for the government worker's travel, and is determined by the Special Issuance Agency. If you happen to be among those who qualify for a no-fee passport and are authorized to travel with dependents, your dependents will be issued no-fee passports as well; they will not be included under yours.

The government agency that sponsors your travel will be the one to alert you of the need for a no-fee passport. They will provide you with instructions on how to submit your application. The only fee that may be required is a twenty-five dollar execution fee when applying. This is at the discretion of the passport acceptance facility you choose, and is because your signature must be witnessed by a passport acceptance agent. When your no-fee passport is issued, it will be delivered to your employer, or the government agency that is responsible for your travel. It is imperative that you include the address of the sponsoring facility when you apply, because these passports are not delivered to private individuals.

You should know when and how you can use your no-fee passport overseas. It is one of those rare opportunities when you can be in possession of two U.S. passports at the same time; your no-fee passport and your regular fee passport. Your no-fee passport is for use during the commission of official duties only, and it is prohibited for use in any kind of personal travel. If you plan on doing personal travel while on an official overseas assignment, you must use your regular fee passport. You can carry both passports with you, so you should never have a problem as long as you use them appropriately.

If you are one of those people who have heard of no-fee passports and held out hope that there was a way for you to get one instead of shelling out $145, it is simply not possible. No-fee passports are an employment benefit, and are issued solely to citizens who are traveling abroad while working on behalf of the United States Government.

For a list of requirements for a new fee-based passport, click here. Processing takes up to 6 weeks. You can get expedited fee-based passports at an application acceptance facility, a regional agency or through a registered courier service.

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