How Long Does It Take To Get A Passport?
Travel – both for business and recreational reasons, is on the rise, and there is no better reason to have a U.S. Passport. In addition to being able to hop on a plane overseas, Federal Legislation has made it so that even road trips to Canada and Mexico require a traveler to present a Passport at the border.
Getting a U.S. Passport can be a lengthy process, but putting off getting a passport until the mythical “off peak” times of the year will only delay that process further.
Typically, if you gather all of your paperwork, fill out the appropriate forms, pay the necessary fees, and have the patience to wait for your U.S. Passport to be processed and mailed to you, the entire procedure could take up to 2 months, if not longer.
Even if you pay the government to get an expedited U.S. Passport, the time is cut greatly, but you can still be looking at a month or so for a turnaround.
Luckily, there are a few third-party companies that work with the U.S. Department of State to get your Passport processed and in your hands in under 3 weeks, and sometimes within 48 hours. This is a fantastic service for those who are called away on last minute business trips, family emergencies, or have simply lost their U.S. Passports and have to start from scratch in the renewal process.
With the various options open to you when getting your U.S. Passport, your should be aware of the waiting times involved in each. Here are the various processes you can go through with your passport application, and the timelines for each, from standard applications to expedited or “rushed” Passports to taking advantage of third-party processing contractors.
Standard U.S. Passport Processing
This is what many people are used to anticipating when applying for a U.S. Passport. For this you will need proof of citizenship (a birth certificate or naturalization papers will suffice), a copy of a valid state ID (drivers license, state-issued identification card), and a 2 x 2-inch photograph showing the front of your face.
You pick up the appropriate forms at your local municipal offices and fill them out in person, and hand them in, along with the other items mentioned above. Then, you play the waiting game for the two months it takes to travel through each federal department and eventually you will receive your passport.
Expedited U.S. Passport Processing
This process involves everything in the previous section (identification papers, forms, photos, etc.), but with a special request and an extra fee, you can cut your waiting time down to about half of the typical window presented when getting a U.S. Passport processed. As of the publication of this article, the normal waiting time for a U.S. Passport application to be processed is 6-8 weeks. With the fees for an rushed or expedited Passport through the U.S. Department of State, that time is cut down to a month or so. This isn’t so bad, considering the number of people applying for Passports.
Unfortunately in both cases, this means you need to adjust your projected travel time, or anticipate your trips, which we all know is almost impossible. Either way, you shouldn’t anticipate a need to travel for at least a month after you apply for a U.S. Passport.
Third-Party Rushed Passports
While the Federal offices control the approval of of Passport applications, third-party service organizations have partnered and contracted with the government to minimize the turnaround time. They know that general bureaucracy, along with the fact there there isn’t a department that’s solely for reviewing and approving U.S. Passports can slow down the timeline from when you send off an application to the time you receive your official passport in the mail.
Keeping this in mind, these third-party services exist solely to process your application, cut down waiting times, and can give you your U.S. Passport in a couple of weeks, and at times within 48 hours. Depending on your level of need for expedition, a Passport can be rushed through and in your hands for only a little more than the normal processing fee.
So this year, don’t bang your head against a wall and throw up your arms to the sky, wondering why it takes so long to get a U.S. Passport. You can now tell your boss that you take that business trip without having to sheepishly explain why you don’t have a passport. You can take that much-needed vacation and take in the treaures of the world without having to reschedule because you’re waiting to eventually get your Passport. And now, you can even hop across to Canada or escape the heat by visiting the beaches of Mexico without being turned away at the border. By using third-party processors, you can cut through all the red tape and get a U.S. Passport in no time at all.