How to Get a New Passport as Quickly as Possible

Here's how long it takes to get a new passport.

An illustration of a pink suitcase with a passport in the pocket


Before you plan your dream international vacation, there's one thing you'll definitely need: a valid passport. And one of your first questions might be “How long does it take to get a passport?” Right now, the process can take up to 13 weeks — plus up to four additional weeks for mailing time — so you'll want to start planning far in advance. (The exact time changes often, so check the U.S. State Department website for the most up-to-date information.) We've broken down the new passport application process and explained State Department policies to help you get your travel documents in time for your next trip.

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How do you apply for or renew a passport?

If you're applying for a new passport, you'll need to do so in person at a passport acceptance facility. Some take walk-ins, while others require appointments. You can find the full details about necessary documentation — including the ever-important passport photo requirements — on the State Department website. You'll have to fill out the forms, submit a photo, provide evidence of U.S. citizenship, present and provide a copy of your ID, and pay the application and execution fees in person at a passport acceptance facility. Then, you can track your application status online. To ensure you receive your new passport as quickly as possible, you'll want to follow the instructions carefully and fill out every required piece of information to prevent any delays.

If you already have a passport, but it's expiring soon, you may be eligible to renew your passport by mail. Your current passport must be undamaged, issued in the last 15 years (when you were 16 or older), and show your current name (or you have documentation of your name change) in order to be eligible for this service. Otherwise, you will have to follow the procedures for applying for a new passport.

How long does it take to get a passport?

Right now, it can take anywhere from a few days to nearly four months to get a passport. (Before the coronavirus pandemic, typical processing times ranged from four to eight weeks.) 

According to the State Department website, routine processing estimates range from 11 to 13 weeks from the day the application is received, and expedited processing (which costs $60) takes seven to nine weeks. Keep in mind that those time frames are estimates just for processing — they do not include mailing time, which can add up to two additional weeks to both the beginning and the end of the passport process. If you're mailing your renewal application in, you can pay for Priority Mail Express from the United States Postal Service to expedite mailing time on the front end. You can also pay ​​the U.S. Department of State $19.53 for one to two-day delivery after your passport is printed.

Considering it may take nearly four months from the time you apply for your passport to the time you receive it, we recommend applying for your passport at least six months before travel.

Related: You Can Legally Buy a Passport From Another Country — If You Can Afford the Investment

How can I get my passport faster?

Beyond the standard expedited process, in which travelers receive their passports in seven to nine weeks (plus mailing time), there are several ways to get your passport even faster. 

Travelers can get their passports expedited at a passport agency or center if they have international travel plans within 14 days through the Urgent Travel Service. In this case, you must call 1-877-487-2778 to make an appointment with a passport agency. 

There is also a Life-or-Death Emergency Service. If someone in your immediate family is outside of the U.S. and they have died, are dying, or have a life-threatening illness or injury, and you need to travel to a foreign country within three business days, you can call the same number to make an emergency appointment.

For the most up-to-date information on urgent and emergency passport processes and timing, check the U.S. Department of State's "Get My Passport Fast" page.

We recommend having your new passport in hand before planning an international vacation and only using these urgent appointments as a last resort, as they are not guaranteed. If needed, you can find all the phone numbers, information about required documentation, and passport center locations on the State Department website.

Additionally, there are courier companies that offer expedited passport services for a (sometimes hefty) fee, but according to the State Department, you wouldn't receive your passport any faster than if you went to a passport agency to apply in person.

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