The Many Ways to Process a Passport

Let’s talk about how to process a passport.

process a passport

Passport Processing Speeds and Options

How long does it take to process a passport? 

There are 2 options you can choose to process a passport: routine or expedited. Importantly, the passport processing times will vary depending on your chosen method.

When you select the routine service to process a passport, you must go to your local passport acceptance facility. Unless you process an adult passport renewal or a name change to your passport, a visit to an acceptance agent is a requirement.

Routine Passport Processing

NOTE: It should be known during the summer months and holidays, passport processing times can range from 7 to 10 weeks.

To process a passport for an adult, child, or lost passport, it will take 6 to 8 weeks. However, this processing time could take even longer if there are any issues with your documents or if the U.S. Department of State requests additional documentation.

Furthermore, routine passport service can be a frustrating process if you have any errors or delays due to incorrect documentation. The U.S. Department of State could deny or suspend your passport due to a variety of reasons. Thousands of travelers experience delays with their passport processing due to the following:

  • Passport photos not meeting the strict criteria.
  • Application discrepancies.
  • Missing documents.

Unfortunately, these errors are common and significantly delay the process of your passport application by at least another 5 to 7 business days.

Expedited Passport Processing

When you select expedited passport service processing at your local acceptance agent to process your passport, your passport application will process within 2-3 weeks.

However, the U.S. State Department cannot guarantee this service if there are discrepancies or errors with your documents. They will then delay or suspend your passport application.

Also, there could be delays with your passport expediting method via the post office or regional passport agency due to busy season or slower travel times.

Regional Passport Agency

If you’re traveling within the next 14 days (or 30 days and require a visa), you may be able to expedite your passport at a Regional Passport Agency.

Most Regional Passport Agencies require an appointment AND proof of travel within the next 14 days. Some locations may even require you to have travel plans within 8 business days. Also, you must provide proof of international travel to process a passport at a Regional Passport Agency.

You should have one of the following: an itinerary, an international ticket, business letter, or proof of medical emergency.

Generally, after visiting the Regional Passport Agency, it takes 1 to 2 business days to process a passport (this includes all passport service times). Important to realize, you will have to wait in line and pay an additional $60 government fee in order to facilitate an expedited passport at a Regional Passport Agency.

Third-Party Registered Passport Courier Service

One of the most preferred (and fastest) methods to process a passport quickly is using a third-party Registered Passport Courier Service.

Another benefit is you do not need to leave your home for a passport renewal. However, these agencies charge an additional service fee on top of the required government fees.

Registered Passport Courier Services are available throughout the United States. One great thing about using a Registered Passport Courier Service is they work directly with the U.S. Department of State to ensure the processing of your passport in time for your trip.

However, the following passport services still require a visit to a passport acceptance agency (prior to sending your documents to the Registered Passport Courier):

  • New passports.
  • Child passports
  • Lost or stolen passports

They’ll need to verify your identity and documentation first.

Processing times with a Registered Passport Courier Service are dependent upon your specific needs. These agencies charge a service fee based on the speed of service you select. Generally, they can process a passport application in 8 to 14 days, or as quickly a 24 hours.

NOTE: The service fee increases as the processing speed of your passport application increases.

Passport Processing Times

In 2016, it began taking a while to process a passport. The main reason your passport processing may be slower this year is that in 2007, part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative required travelers to have a passport book or card in order to travel by land or sea to Canada or Mexico and cruise ships.

10 years later, many of those applicants need to renew their passports. It’s best to renew your passport earlier than later if it is coming up for renewal so you don’t fall victim to the system and end up with no passport by your travel date.

Of course, if you end up needing your passport faster, there are expedited passport services to process a passport on time.


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