Checking your passport application status is a great way to keep track of where you are at. Today with the implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), many citizens who get stuck in another country, or are planning to leave the country only to find that you cannot find your own passport are going to need to use the options available to check that status of an application. US Citizens used to be able to return back home from Canada, Mexico and most of the Caribbean by air, but unfortunately no longer due to the heightened security that came about after the attacks on 9/11/2001. The US Dept of State covers the passport application status and that is the site which you must visit to begin checking on the progress yours is taking.
Remember that processing times vary between what you are doing. If your passport is expedited then you should expect a much faster time from the initial application to when you receive it, although there is no guarantee. There is no overnight shipping when it comes to receiving your passport since they are all sent via USPS 1st Class Mail which will typically take 2-3 business days to receive it. If you chose the expedited method, the normal turn-around time for applications is roughly 2-3 weeks from the date that you send the application so when you should receive it back. Otherwise the regular processing time is 4-6 weeks. Please note that if you have chosen your processing time as expedited that you clearly write EXPEDITED on the mailing envelope or package to ensure that it is quickly processed into the right priority list. Also ensure that whatever you use to mail the documents is secure and packaged in a reasonable manner such as using a Tyvek envelope.
To check the actual status, you must visit the US Department of State website at www.travel.state.gov.You may only check the status after it has been approximately 5-7 days after your actual application has been set in, whether that be the DS-11 or DS-84 form.
Once at the website and the 5-7 days has passed, you must use your last name including any applicable suffixes or hyphens (examples: Jackson-Smith, Jones III, Johnson Sr.), your date of birth in format MMDDYYYY and the last four digits of your social security number. You may also get in contact with the National Passport Information Center if there are any further questions about the application that you filled out, or the status of the application.
The National Passport Information Center can be accessed via the website (travel.state.gov) or by calling 1877-487-2778 and they are available Monday through Friday 8am to 10pm EST excluding any holidays. If you are not currently within the United States, please contact your local US Embassy or Consulate for more information. The National Passport Information Center recommends that the best time to call to find any information out without having to wait in line would be first thing in the morning or 8:30am to 9am EST.
A US passport contains a lot of personal information that is highly sought after by criminals for illegal purposes. When checking on your passport application on the internet, remember to close all browser windows after use, especially if you aren’t using your own personal PC, for security measures. After finishing, it is a good practice to delete your history and cookies. When providing information over the phone, ensure that your connection is secured. Double-check whenever you are asked to give out personal information; this way you can avoid giving it to the wrong hands!