Navigating the US Passport System During the Government Shutdown: A Complete Guide

While most of the federal government is shut down, the State Department is continuing to provide passport and visa services due to a combination of separate funding and border protection being classified as an essential service. The State Department’s processing time remains at about four weeks for regular applications. Two weeks for expedited applications. Some passport centers are experiencing some delays.

Government Shutdown and U.S. Passport Services

The United States government has shut down 21 times since 1976 with the latest being the shutdown of December 2018 – January 2019 this was the longest shutdown in United States history that lasted 35 days surpassing the previous 21-day shutdown of 1995 – 1996. Each time there is a shutdown some critical government services are affected. The 35-day shutdown led to almost 380,000 federal workers being furloughed and additional 420,000 workers being required to work without pay.

Getting a passport during a government shutdown could be tricky it is recommended to try and get your passport before any government shutdown as sometimes passport services could be affected during the government shutdown. Passport services are funded from the passport fees. So, there is usually some money available for passport services even if the government is shut down and Congress does not pass a funding bill.

Are Passports Affected During the Government Shutdown? Yes, but there is sometimes a delay in processing the passport application.

Usually, post offices would be open during the government shutdown but passport agencies that expedited passport applications for travelers who are traveling within fourteen business days would sometimes be closed if they are in a Federal building.

Which Passport Offices Are Open During the Government Shutdown?

While all post offices remain open because the U.S. Postal Service is self-funded, many federal buildings are closed. Passport centers within these buildings that use furlough federal employees may close. As the situation develops, additional locations may close and wait times may increase at the remaining location. If the State Department must scale back its number of employees, processing times may increase.

Passport Agencies in  Federal Buildings

Boston Passport AgencyThomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Federal Building10 Causeway Street, Room 247
Boston, MA 02222
Honolulu Passport AgencyPrince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Federal Building300 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite I-330
Honolulu, HI 96850
Houston Passport AgencyGeorge Thomas “Mickey” Leland Federal Building1919 Smith Street, 4th Floor
Houston, TX 77002
Los Angeles Passport AgencyWest L.A. Federal Building11000 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1000
Los Angeles, CA 90024-3602
Dallas Passport AgencyEarle Cabell Federal Building1100 Commerce St, Suite 1120
Dallas, TX 75242
Minneapolis Passport AgencyUnited States Federal Office Building aka The “Old” Federal Building212 3rd Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55401
New York Passport AgencyGreater New York Federal Building376 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014-3621
Philadelphia Passport AgencyU.S. Custom House200 Chestnut Street, Room 103
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Seattle Passport AgencyFifth and Yesler Building300 5th Avenue, Suite 600
Seattle, WA 98104

The United States Post Offices Remain Open For Business

Post Offices may continue to be the best option for some. But in some areas, especially major cities with large immigrant populations, waiting times can be several hours. The use of a private expediting company may be even more desirable because, in addition to providing the usual help with the expedited passport application process, they will also be in constant communication with the relevant authorities regarding further developments. This may help avoid trips to a suddenly closed location or the need to wait at length at one of the few open locations. While private passport expediters do charge a fee on top of the regular passport fees, for many it may be well worth it.

Getting a Passport During the Government Shutdown

Getting your passport during the government shutdown is no different than when it is open. You must gather your documents that pertain to a passport. The documents will determine the type of processing. If you need a new passport, replace an expired or lost passport or a minor’s passport, you must submit the proper form.

Supporting Documents

Your supporting documents for your application are printed on your application. Most applications will ask for the same documents. Here is a list of documents you should submit with your application. Only submit the documents required. The documents should be original or certified by a notary. The documents are:

  • Proof of citizenship
    • U.S. Birth Certificate
    • Consular Report of Birth Abroad Certificate
    • Naturalization Certificate
    • Current Passport
  • Proof of Identity
    • Driver’s License
    • State ID
    • Current Passport
    • Social Security Card
    • School ID
    • Military ID
    • Baptismal Certificate
  • Passport Photo
  • Passport Fee

How to Submit a Passport During the Shutdown?

Once you have your form and documents together, you can now submit your application at an acceptance facility if the facility is in a federal government building it would be close it would be better to try a local post office instead. Even with a government shutdown, the cost of processing will be the same. However, the processing time may be longer than the normal 4 to 6 weeks if you choose standard processing. The expedited processing cost will also be the same. The post office charges $60 for this service.

The Alternative to Get a Passport During the Government Shutdown?

Getting a passport is not limited to the post office, county clerk’s office, or public library. You can hire an expeditor to help speed up the processing time. However, the government shutdown will delay the processing time. So, expect a few days to be added to the processing time. You will still get a passport in less time if you hire an expeditor than if you submit your application at the post office.

So, even with a government shutdown, you can still get a passport to travel abroad. Unless the government stops processing passport applications, you will not get a passport. For now, the processing continues and if there should be any change in the near future, we will provide that information to you.


Although the government shutdown has caused some difficulties in navigating the US passport system, it is still possible to altogether avoid those delays and potential frustrations. It is important to remember to always double-check with your local government office to find out what specific deadlines they may have set for passport applications.