What is a Sealed Passport Adjudicated Envelope?

The sealed passport adjudicated envelope is also called the ‘hand carry envelope’. It is one of the most important steps of applying for a new passport or a replacement passport. The acceptance agent is usually the post office or county clerk. They are authorized by the government to review your documents and confirm the identity of the applicant. The acceptance agent then takes all of your documents and places them into a specially sealed adjudicated envelope. This envelope cannot be opened or tampered with. It is then sent to the U.S State Dept for their processing. Routine processing is 4-6 weeks, so if you need it faster, you must send the sealed passport adjudicated envelope to a trusted passport expediting company. A company like Fastport Passport can secure your passport in two weeks or less, even as fast as 24 hours if you need. If you choose to use an expedited service like Fastport Passport, it may help to bring in a letter to the acceptance agent that explains using a private service.


  1. Attach your travel plans, and authorization letter to the outside of the hand carry envelope with a staple or paperclip. There should also be a copy of the authorization form and travel plans inside of the hand carry envelope as well.
  2. Attach an additional copy of your barcoded DS-11 application form on the outside of the hand carry envelope. This does not need to be signed or have any photos attached. This helps the U.S. State Department to quickly scan your application in for processing.
  3. You must also send us your sealed envelope by the following day or your application may be denied.


What is a Sealed Passport Adjudicated Envelope?

hand carry envelope passports onlineThe sealed adjudicated envelope contains your DS passport application, passport photos, and any other documents that are required as outlined on the Instructional Checklist. Please follow the instructional checklist carefully. Any mistakes on your documents can cause your application to be delayed, or even worse denied. Once your adjudicated envelope is sealed by the acceptance agent, it cannot be opened or tampered with or the application is considered invalid. Additionally, you only have 5 days to get the sealed adjudicated envelope to the U.S. State Dept once it is sealed. If you are using a private expediting company, you should overnight your sealed passport adjudicated envelope to the expediting company immediately. Do not delay on this step, as it could cause your passport application to be denied. Once the expediting company receives your envelope, they will ‘hand carry’ it to the U.S. Department of State, as they have appointments that are not available to the general public. This ensures that your passport will be processed immediately and in time for your trip.


Because the hand carry envelope (sealed passport adjudicated envelope) cannot be opened, you should include copies of the contents on the outside for the expediting company to ensure you completed everything correctly. In the very least, include a copy of the DS application and the Letter of Authorization so the expediting company can review it and make sure you did it correctly. If they catch any mistakes before it is submitted, they can help correct them without delaying the application processing.


If you have any questions about the contents of the sealed passport adjudicated envelope (hand carry envelope), please refer to the Checklist or call 877-910-7277.
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