How Long Does It Take to Get a Passport?
One of these is bound to be, “How long does it take to get a passport?”
You’re not alone in wondering about the processing times for passports as this is a common question by our readers. So, we did our best to answer and explain it in full here in this article.
Many people forget about getting a passport right before a trip. Procrastination can cause some panic if you’re planning to leave in a few days. Luckily, there are several options for obtaining a passport, each a little faster, but at a cost. If you can remember to get your passport eight to ten weeks before your trip, you’ll save yourself money.
But knowing there are quick options to getting a new or renewed passport is helpful to the busy traveler with a “just in time” schedule. Here is a clear picture of the choices you have to process your application form. You will also get a better understanding of where these services are available and the cost.
Routine & Expedited Passport Processing Times
When talking about how long it takes to get a passport in the US, there are two major times that you need to concern yourself with.
If you apply for a US passport through normal means, you can expect to wait between four to six weeks from submitting your application until the time in which you receive your passport in the mail. If you choose to go through the passport agency for rush passport processing, the time can be cut down to around one to eight business days depending on the passport agency. Below we would break down in detail a routine or expedited passport expected to wait for time.
Passport Processing Time
- Regular Passport Process: 4 to 6 Weeks
- Expedited with Post Office: 2 to 3 Weeks
- Passport Agency: 1 to 8 Business Days
- Private Expediting Companies: 1 Day to 3 weeks
First Time Application Process
Getting a passport for the first can be challenging and exciting at the same time. Just the idea of getting your travel document gives you a boost in travel plans.
Now, let’s focus on the process you must undergo to acquire this vital document.
As a first-time passport applicant, adult or minor, you must complete Form DS-11, Application for a U.S. Passport. In addition to the form, supporting documents, and the fees put together to complete the application package. Do not sign the application until the day you submit your application.
Once you complete gathering all the documents, you can visit a passport acceptance facility to submit them. At these facilities, you will encounter different processing options to get a new passport.
The choices are according to how soon you need your travel document. The processing time can be from 6 -weeks to 1 day for an expedited passport and 6 weeks for routine processing.
The Standard Renewal Process
If you have your old passport and it is still legible, all you need is the passport and a completed DS-82 Passport Renewal Form.
If your passport is lost or mutilated, you’ll need to apply for a new passport with a DS-11 form, “Application for a U.S. Passport.” You will also need a passport photo to apply for a new passport and a copy of your birth certificate.
If your name has changed since your last passport application, you’ll need a certified copy of the marriage certificate, divorce decree, or other court document showing your old and new names.
Where to Apply for a Passport Renewal
If you meet some criteria, you can apply by mail, but this takes the longest to get your passport back, usually four to six weeks. To apply by mail:
- Your passport must not be damaged and legible
- Your passport must have been issued when you were at least 16 years old and within the past 15 years
- Your passport is in your current name, or you have certified copies of the above documents to prove the name change
If your passport is lost or mutilated, you have to apply in person. The renewed passport can only be mailed to U.S. or Canadian addresses. All of the certified documents and your old passport have to be mailed in. Since there is some risk of losing it in the mail, this could be a risky way to renew.
Applying at the Post Office
How long does it take to get a passport at the post office would depend on a number of factors? You will need the application DS-82 form completed, you can visit post offices that handle passports.
Not all post offices have this service, and those that do may have specific hours or require an appointment.
At the post offices, some certified agents will review your materials with you and help you submit them. Expect four to six weeks for routine processing time and expedited services between two to three weeks.
Prior to going to the post office, you will need to get a passport photo.
Applying at a Passport Agency
State Department Regional Passport Agencies can also help you if you need to renew your passport sooner than the four to six-week average. Many larger cities have one of these facilities.
You will need an appointment and take all of your material with you.
You will also:
- Show proof of your upcoming travel at most of the agencies (but not all)
- Pay an additional fee for the quicker processing of your renewal
You could receive your new passport the same day with this option.
Applying at a Private Passport Expeditor
Working with a private passport service, you could have your new passport within one to eight days.
These companies work with the regional passport agencies to get you an expedited passport in as short a time as possible. You will need all of your other material plus proof of travel, or a family emergency showing why the urgency.
It is safe and the quickest way to renew your passport.
How long does it take to get a passport?
So, here’s the tl;dr with getting a passport:
- If you are looking to renew a passport or maybe a child, the processing time with the post offices are usually 4-6 weeks
- If you are looking to have the process expedited with the post offices then the waiting time is usually 2-3 weeks
Anything faster and you’ll need to use a service.
Where to Get a U.S. Passport?
When the time comes to apply for your United States passport, you have a few critical options with regards to where to go. It is essential to understand that you can submit a new or renewal passport application at any passport acceptance facility in the country, which includes most United States Post Office locations and places like embassies.
If you find that your trip is coming up sooner than you expected and you don’t have time to wait four to six weeks for processing, you also have another option available to you. You can choose to use an expedited passport courier service in your area to cut the wait time down significantly.
These companies are trusted partners who will come to your home and collect all of the appropriate forms, passport photos, and fees and submit them on your behalf. Depending on the area of the country where you live, and the time of year in which you are applying, these expedited services can have your new passport in hand in as little as 24 to 48 hours.