Passport processing time

Passport Processing Times

In September 6, 2017

The travel industry is constantly evolving, whether travelers are ready or not. This can mean quick changes in laws that may require you to have a valid passport. With laws like the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative in 2007, suddenly a valid passport was now required for U.S. travelers to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. More recently, the REAL ID Act has pushed many Americans to obtain a passport with the Acts new rule to require travelers from 25 U.S. states and territories to use a passport on domestic flights.

With the constant changes in the travel industry, it’s good to know what the processing times are for passports so you can properly gauge if you need to get your passport expedited to make your trip. Routine passports take 4-6 weeks to process. Expedited passports can be processed in 2-3 weeks with an additional $60 fee. However if you are in an emergency situation where your thousands of dollars of vacation could be waste, you may need to consider an even faster processing option.

Routine Passport Service

Routine passport processing is for travelers that are not in a hurry to get their passport. Routine processing can take 4-6 weeks or longer. Routine passport processing is often provided at the post office. An appointment may be required, so call ahead. If appointments are hard to get, try the county clerk as they often have walk-in hours as well.

Expedited Passport Services

Expedited passport processing is available at the post office or county clerk. This service usually takes 2-3 weeks and will cost an additional $60 per application. If you are located near a major U.S. city, you may be able to use a Regional Passport Agency. Appointments are required so call ahead using the toll-free government number: 877-487-2778

Travelers that need a passport immediately but cannot make it to a Regional Passport Agency may qualify for a Registered Passport Courier Service. A Registered Passport Courier works directly with the Regional Passport Agency to help expedite the passport process on behalf of the applicant.

Passport Processing Times Delayed

Hundreds of travelers every day realize their passport has expired or is missing just before they are set to leave for their international trip. This doesn’t have to cause you to miss your trip! Expedited passport processing is available but only if you haven’t already applied. If you have applied already through the routine processing methods, your only hope is to get an appointment at a Regional Passport Agency. They may be able to help get your passport issued but you will need to make an appointment or show up early if they allow walk-ins.

If you are unsure whether to go the routine route or the expedited route because your trip is around the corner, it is important to know the best and worst months to apply for a passport. November is known for being the “slower” season for the passport industry producing just short of 800,000 passports in that month. March, however, nearly doubles that statistic with having over 1,600,000 passports processed. March is typically the time of spring break and a lot of people have time off work. Holidays and storms can also impact the Passport Agency hours of operation and therefore cause even more delays in passport processing.

Plan ahead and apply early. And if you need expedited passport processing, now you know your options!

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