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Passport Services of the U.S. Department of State - Should You Apply Directly for Your Passport?

The Passport Services of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs is the only authorized passport issuing agency for citizens of the United States who intend to travel internationally.

The State Department's Passport Services also seeks to protect the integrity of the U.S. passport as proof of citizenship at home and around the world. It is important to note that a passport is actually the property of the United States government and must be surrendered if ever the government should demand it.

What is the Passport Service System?

The U.S. Department of State Passport Services consists of:

How many passports have been issued?

The number of passports issued grew annually from over 5.5 million in 1996 to over 21 million in 2018 before dropping in 20 million in 2019 followed by a huge drop in 2020 due to the pandemic. Much of the increase was due to new passport requirements based on the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

passport cards begin being issued in 2008. That first year, a total of 189,560 were issued. This number also grew year over year until 2019 when 2.9 million passport cards were issued.

How has Passport Services handled the increased demand?

Due to this increase in demand, it was difficult for Passport Services to process passports within the stipulated time. For quite a while, processing of applications took as long as 12 weeks.

Over the past few years, Passport Services has worked to lower the processing time to 6 to 8 weeks by increasing the number of regional agencies and individual agents. Errors on application forms or problems with documents and photos submitted can cause delays in processing time by days, weeks or, even, months.

If you are not in a rush to get your travel document, you can review the passport requirements to verify which service you need and then apply for routine processing.

Expedited Processing

The State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs generally processes applications sent by mail for expedited service within two to three weeks. This can also require more time if there are problems with the application or supporting documents. For emergency passport service in less than two weeks, applicants can make an appointment and personally visit the nearest regional passport agency.

Top 5 Questions About Expedited Passport Couriers

1. How can you get a passport when you're in a hurry?
2. What exactly does a passport expediter do?
3. Are passport expediting services legitimate?
4. How can I identify a reliable passport expeditor?
5. Is expedited passport service worth it?

Get answers to these questions and more in our Ultimate U.S. Traveler's Guide to Passport Expediters.

You can also visit our library of articles about passport expediting.

In a Hurry? Get Reliable Expedited Passport Courier Service:Expedite My U.S.Passport Now!
About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

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