Applying for a Passport from Outside the US

When applying for a U.S. Passport from outside of the United States, there are a great many procedural similarities, but also a few particulars that set is apart form the usual routine. This article will help to walk you through the necessary steps to get your U.S. Passport if you are in another country.

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Get acquainted with your nearest U.S. Embassy & Consulate

The biggest difference in applying for a U.S. Passport outside of the United States is that, while the forms may be similar, the steps in submitting those forms vary from Embassy to Embassy and Consulate to Consulate. Before you go an pick up your U.S. Passport application, you should at least call to familiarize yourself with how they do things at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in order to make the entire process quick and efficient, rather than ending up wasting time by redoing steps because things operate differently.

 

Documents & Photos

The specific form you fill out for your U.S. Passport will depend on what the photo and documentation requirements are, as proof of identification and citizenship. As a basic rule of thumb, your should have your state or federal identification card, birth certificate, and at least a 1×1-inch photograph of your face. If there are any other supporting documents or different photos required, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will inform you of these when you ask about their specific procedures.

Fees & Payment

 

The one constant in applying for a U.S. Passport is that no matter where you are – even if you are applying from outside the United States – the fees are the same. The cost for an Adult Passport, renewal, or addiitonal pages are the same in Germany, Zimbabwe, Japan, Argentina, and everywhere else, as they are in the United States.

 

What is different, however, is how you pay these fees. Many U.S. Embassies and Consulates will only accept United States currency (cash). Checks are not allowed, though a few agencies abroad will accept credit cards. Your best bet is to contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you are in order to find out what methods of payment are accepted when submitting your forms for processing. Please note that payment cannot be mailed – the transaction must be made in person.

Processing Time

Since U.S. Passports are printed and authorized in the United States, the waiting period from submitting your application to receiving your passport can be somewhat longer than if you apply within the United States. Also, because the actual processing and printing takes place in America, you will not be able to take advantage of the expedited or “rushed” service, so the turnaround time for a U.S. Passport is a little over a month, if you are applying outside of the U.S.

If there is an emergency requiring you to have a passport, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate may be able to give you a Limited Validity Passport, but the requirements, resrictions, and terms of use are varied. In these cases, contact your U.S. Embassy or Consulate for full details befome walking in to fill out the necessary forms.

Third Party Services

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When it comes to applying for a U.S. Passport from outside the United States, between the processing time and the specific procedures and requirements of eaach U.S. Embassy or Consulate, you may be looking at almost 2 months before you receive your passport, form the time of submitting your forms. Unless you have everything in your life planned months in advance, waiting on a passport can mean everything from putting off a vacation to see friends and family, to missing job opportinities because you cannot travel.

 

Luckily, there are a number of third party services which have partnered with the U.S. Department of State to process passport application from outside the United States. These services can tell you the requirements of each U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and even offset the waiting period to just a mere fraction of what it would normally take to process your application and have your U.S. Passport ready for you.

Because the third party services apply private sector efficiency to what is normally a very bureaucratic procedure, the turnaround from submitting your forms to getting your passport can be cut down from months to as little as 48 hours (and in some cases, even faster than that.

Bottom Line

While the fees are the same, the specific procedures in each country for apply for a U.S. Passport vary greatly, so it is wise to call well in advance to find out what is required of you to get the process started. The waiting time when applying for a U.S. Passport outside of the United States can be upwards of 2 months, but third party services work in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State in order to expedite the procedures and get your U.S. Passport in your hands in a fraction of the typical turnaround time, so you can travel – for business or pleasure – without any hassle.