Getting a Passport: Plan Ahead
The bounce-back in international travel is causing unprecedented demand for passports and a resulting delay in issuing new passports. To help, we’ve pulled together an overview of what you need to get a passport and how you can get it quickly.
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Are you thinking about international travel this summer for the first time? If so, you’d better start working on obtaining your US passport immediately as the US Department of State is facing unprecedented demand for passports. According to recent testimony from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the State Department is getting 500,000 applications a week for passports, which is 30 to 40% more applicants this year than last year. As a result, it’s now taking up to 3-4 times longer than normal to get a new passport!
So, you may be wondering what’s needed to get a passport, how long it will take to get your passport, what your options are for expedited processing and how much it will cost. As experienced international travelers, the team from Knack is here to help! In this blog, we will discuss the current lay of the land and provide you with the most up-to-date information to help you plan accordingly.
What's Needed to Get a Passport?
For a first-time US passport, you need to provide a few key pieces of information and documentation starting with the DS-11 form, which can be found on the US Department of State's website. Additionally, you will need to provide proof of US citizenship, such as a birth certificate, as well as a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license or military ID.
You will also need to provide a passport photo, which must meet specific requirements. The photo should be recent, in color, and show your full face. It should be printed on high-quality photo paper and measure 2 inches by 2 inches. And yes, you can smile – just make sure your eyes are open and your mouth is closed in the photo.
For minors under 16, both parents or legal guardians must be present with the child in person to apply for their first passport, or the absent parent must provide a notarized consent form.
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How Long Is It Taking to Get a Passport?
In normal circumstances, it can take between 4 to 6 weeks to obtain a new US passport. However, due to the bounce-back in international travel post-pandemic, processing times have increased significantly. According to the US Department of State, the current processing times for routine service is around 18 weeks from the time of application to the time you receive your passport. This is almost four times longer than the usual processing time!
It's important to note that processing times may vary depending on the location where you apply, the time of year, and other factors. Given that March kicks off the busy season (which continues until September) it's always best to check the current processing times on the State Department's website before submitting your application.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Rushed Passport?
If you need your passport in a hurry, you can choose expedited service, which costs an additional $60 and usually takes 12 weeks. However, due to the current backlog of applications, expedited service may take longer than 12 weeks. You can cut up to four weeks off this timing by sending your passport application materials to the State Department via Priority Mail Express (cost varies based on your location) and also paying $19.53 for 1-2 day delivery of your new passport with your application.
If you need your passport within the next few weeks or even days, you can request an appointment at a regional passport agency. Regional passport agencies are located in major cities throughout the United States and offer same-day or next-day passport services for customers who have urgent travel needs. To schedule an appointment at a regional passport agency, you must call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778.
It's important to note that appointments at regional passport agencies are extremely limited and may be difficult to obtain. You must have proof of travel within 72 hours to qualify for same-day service, and appointments are subject to availability. Additionally, regional passport agencies may be located far from your home, which can add additional travel expenses.
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How Much Does It Cost to Get a Passport?
The cost of a US passport varies depending on several factors, including whether you are applying for the first time or renewing an existing passport, and whether you choose standard or expedited processing. Here is a breakdown of the current fees:
- First-time adult passport book: $145
- Passport renewal: $110
- Child under 16: $115
- Expedited processing: $60
In addition to these fees, you may also need to pay for additional services such as passport photos, overnight delivery, or a name change. It's important to factor in these additional costs when budgeting how much a passport costs.
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Obtaining a US passport is an essential step for anyone planning to travel internationally, but the current issues facing passport processing could cause you significant delays. It's important to plan ahead and allow plenty of time for your passport application to be processed. Be sure to check the current processing times on the State Department's website, budget for additional fees, and consider expedited service or a regional passport agency if you need your passport in a hurry. By taking these steps, you can ensure that you have the necessary documents to travel abroad safely and efficiently.
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