Passport Delays: Getting a Bit Better
|Apply now — you'll wait up to three months before you can tuck this in your moneybelt.|
While the processing of US passport applications has recently improved, we still recommend obtaining your new or renewal passports several months in advance of your travel, when possible. The typical wait time for a US passport is now 6-8 weeks. So if you're planning to travel internationally in 2007 or 2008, you should check your passport's expiration date and prepare to act as quickly as possible (do the math: for most countries, your passport's expiration date should be at least 6 months after your planned return date).
- To get a new passport (good for 10 years) the cheapest - and slowest - way, you'll pay $97 as a first-timer, or $67 to renew, and probably wait about 8 weeks.
- If you can't wait that long, tack on an additional $60 rush fee (plus overnight shipping both ways) and you should get your passport by mail within 3 weeks.
- If you can provide proof that you have to leave within two weeks (by showing a purchased plane ticket or a letter from work requiring you to travel overseas on short notice), you should call the National Passport Information Center's automated appointment line at 877/487-2778 to make an in-person appointment at one of 13 regional passport agencies (http://travel.state.gov/passport) located in major cities throughout the USA, where you'll be able to pick up your new passport in-person. We've heard from lucky callers who have reached a live person at this number, and who have been able to change their passport application status to "expedited" on the phone without having to follow-up with an in-person visit. This phone update is available to people whose passports have not been processed within the promised 8 week timeframe, so if you are in this same category, call and see what you can do. The automated call-in appointment system at 877/487-2778 is open 24 hours, so to reduce your on-hold time, try calling before 6 a.m. Press 1 (English), then 3 (passports), then 1 (leaving within 14 days). And you'll need to be patient when calling, but customers have reported success with this method so it is worth your time to try to get through.
- If you're taking one of the slower/cheaper options, four two weeks after you apply, you can check the status of your passport application and its estimated arrival date through the State Department website at www.travel.state.gov.