How Long does it Take to Get a USA Passport?

How Long does it Take to Get a US Passport

Planning to travel out of the country? That’s Awesome!!

So, before you pack your suitcase and take off, you will need to get a passport.

How long does it take to get a passport?

Usually, the standard timeline for receiving a passport is dependent upon various factors such as Whether the passport is for a minor or adult,  first-time/ fresh passport or renewal. All these will impact the timeline to get a passport. 

When it comes to passports, there arise many questions in our mind, just like many other things. Like, how do you get a passport? Do you have to visit a passport agency? How long will it take to issue a new passport? Can you apply for it online? How and when to renew your passport? What to do with the old passport in case of renewal? When and how do you get a new passport in case of a name change?

Here, we are going to provide you with detailed information step by step and by the situation. 

The first step is nearly the same for everyone and it is to find a nearby official passport acceptance facility which accepts passport applications on behalf of the State Department.

Here is the list of documents one must have to officially apply for their  first passport, as per the State Department:

  • A completely filled DS-11 form.
  • U.S. citizenship proof, such as a birth certificate or few other documents also qualify for the same and a legible, black-and-white photocopy of this document on 8.5 by 11-inch paper.
  • Proof of present identification, such as a driving license or some other documents which qualified for the same and a photocopy of the front and back of your identification proof on 8.5 by 11-inch paper.
  • A colour passport photo should be in size 2 inches by 2 inches. For all the passport photos requirements (for example, you can’t wear a hat or glasses), see the State Department’s guide.
  • Passport fees: The passport fees vary depending upon the age of applicant and type of passport. Most first-time adult applications cost $145, but there is an official passport fee calculator so you can calculate yours.

Once you have checked all the necessary documents in the required format,  make an appointment in advance. It sounds more like paperwork. So, it would be better if you cross-check whether you have all the necessary documents or not. 

What about the timeline to get your passport? The State Department estimates that a passport takes 4 to 6 weeks to process from the time you turn in your application, including the time it takes to mail it back to you, so apply timely to avoid any hustle-bustle.

How long does it take to get a passport renewed?

Renewal of Passport: 

To avoid last moment anxiety, start your renewal process accordingly. The government recommends renewing your passport nine months before it expires. 

To renew a passport, you can simply mail in all your documents. Unlike the process of getting your first passport, you don’t have to visit an official facility in person. If you are having  your old passport in a decent form beyond the usual wear-and-tear, and it was issued when you were older than 16 and within the last 15 years your name hasn’t changed, then you will need to include only the following in the mail to renew a passport:

If your name has been changed since getting your last passport, you can include one official proof of the name change, such as a court-ordered name change document, marriage certificate, divorce certificate.

Once you’ve submitted all of the above-mentioned documents, it generally takes the same amount of time as a first-time passport that is 6 to 8 weeks starting from the date of application through mailing, to get your new passport. 

What to do with an old passport?

The old passport does get returned, usually with a hole punched in the cover. The old passport may be sent separately from your new passport.

If you don’t have your old passport, you’ll have to start the passport renewal process like a first-time passport application. You have to fill out the DS-11 form and go in-person to a passport acceptance facility.

As a well-known fact, “many countries won’t let you enter if your passport’s expiration date is within three or even six months of your departure.” So to avoid any such situation do check your passport’s expiration date before planning to travel abroad. However, with an outdated or expired passport, you might be able to book any airline and it will let you check-in and take off to your destination. But in such a scenario, a foreign country is not going to allow you to enter and stay in their country. The country won’t hesitate to ask you to go back. It is totally your responsibility to stay updated with all the requirements.

Talking about visa thing, it’s also worth knowing that even if your passport is valid, you could still need to get a visa to enter your destination country. Visas are still valid even if they’re in an expired passport. It is advisable to also carry your old passport with you if you have a current visa on it. 

Don’t do everything at the last moment. Do consider the buffer time too to get your passport renewed. You should check the expiration date on your passport while preparing the travel plan and also, do proper research regarding the passport and visa requirements of the country you’re planning to visit.

How long does it take to get a passport expedited?

Just weeks or days before your trip, If you find that you have an expired or soon-to-expire passport, don’t get anxious. Take a deep breath and relax, because things can be managed now also. Though expedited passports are definitely a more expensive and time-consuming process. There are a few ways to get an expedited passport

Well, it depends on how much of a time crunch you’re actually in. Here are various scenarios and what to do in each:

  • Departure time 4 to 6 weeks: Those who are departing in less than 4 to 6 week can expedite a passport renewal in-person at a passport acceptance facility, same as visited at the time of first-time passport application. You can also renew your passport by mail in this timeframe. You have to include all the necessary documents, the fee for expedited service. You are also advised to mark “EXPEDITE” clearly on the outside of the envelope. The fee to expedite passport renewals is an extra $60 in addition to regular fees. If you choose to expedite your renewal by mail, you can also pay an additional fee ($15.89) to have your passport overnighted once it is processed. it will be sent back via overnight mail after the normal expedited processing time.
  • Departure time 2 to 3 weeks: Those who are less than two to three weeks away from travelling are probably cutting it too close to expedite via mail or even in person. That’s where passport agencies come in the picture. Passport agencies are regional offices usually in major cities, check the full list here that can turn around passport applications in as less as 24 hours. This option isn’t for people just looking for a speedy passport renewal process. Travellers will have to present proof of an international trip within two weeks. It can be a flight itinerary, hotel itinerary. You’ll also have to make an appointment online or via phone and pay that same $60 expediting fee.
  • If there’s a life or death emergency requiring travel within 72 hours, it is required to contact the State Department in such a situation. You will still have to compile the same documentation and paperwork and also, have to attach proof of the emergency in such a situation.

The duration to get a passport to expedite totally depends upon when and how you apply.

How long does it take to update name correction/ name change in the passport?

There can be various reasons for name change such as you’ve gotten married, divorced or simply changed your name.  Now, you have to incorporate the same changes in your passport, there are a few ways to do the same. It is not that difficult to go about changing the name on your passport.

 The easiest way is to have an official or certified copy of name change proof. It can be a marriage certificate or court order. Sending a photocopy or notarized copy is not permissible.

There is no fee applicable for changing your name on the passport If your passport was issued less than a year ago. You are required to send in the DS-5504 form, an original, certified name change document, the old passport and one colour passport photo (with the same requirements as listed above).

If it’s been more than a year, you’ll essentially go through the renewal process and include name-change documents. Here, you have to follow the renewal process. 

However, you don’t qualify for a renewal. Not qualify here means that in case if 

  • you don’t have your old passport
  • Its present state is beyond normal travel wear-and-tear 
  • It was issued when you were younger than 16 or more than 15 years ago you’ll have to go through the first-time passport application and also, include the official name change document. 

In Case of an Emergency

In case you lose your passport or its stolen, while you are abroad, no need to panic. There are still a few options left for you to save yourself. If you’re travelling abroad, before leaving for the trip, make note of the closest embassy or consulate in relation to where you’re staying. You are supposed to visit the embassy if you lose your passport when you’re on a trip. Those embassy staff will try to help you get home. As a safer side, one can carry multiple photocopies of their passport as a backup for emergency situations. If not photocopies, one must keep scanned copies of such documents stored digitally. 

How long does it take to get a Passport Card?

Passport cards are credit-card-sized IDs that allow for entry to the U.S. via its land or sea borders. It may often be used as an identity card for purposes other than international travel.  Passport cards are only valid to enter Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Carribean countries and territories. The difference between a regular passport and a passport card is that passport cards cannot be used for international air travel. The benefits of getting a passport card are that they’re cheaper ($30 to $65 depending on if you’re a first-time applicant or renewing your passport card). Passport Cards are more portable as they are wallet-sized. If you are thinking of travelling to nearby territories, a passport card instead of a passport book is a better option available.

There is no reason to get a passport card instead of a passport book. But, if you are getting both with one application, you could have another proof of your U.S. citizenship and identity.

On the other hand, there is no time advantage to getting a passport card. As the processing time is the same as a regular passport. One can have both options available. You can apply for both a passport and a passport card at the same, with one application form.  

Check Your Status

To ensure the application processing of your passport you must keep on tracking your passport status.  Once you’ve submitted your documents and passport application online or at a passport acceptance location, you can track the status of your passport online or via phone also. You can check the status of your passport application by entering your last name, your date of birth and last four digits of your Social Security Number.  Status checking option is available whether it’s a first-time application, renewal or name change.

Generally, it takes 7 to 10 days for passport applications to show up in the online system. On the status of your passport application, you can even sign up for email updates. You’ll be able to see when it’s been mailed out to you.