Have a winter get-a-way booked but your passport needs renewing, updating, or you need to apply for one altogether?
Don’t worry – The U.S. State Department has now reopened routine passport services across the country, including new passport applications and passport renewal services.
Even though the pandemic has slowed down a lot of international travel, American citizens are still permitted to leave the country for leisure.
With travel starting to pick back up, many eager travelers have been worried about how to renew their soon expiring passports, as out of country trips are getting more popular as winter approaches.
Earlier this year when the pandemic first hit, the government shut down passport offices, with very few exceptions for life or death situations. On March 27th they posted a statement declaring:
“Due to public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, effective March 20, 2020, we are only able to offer service for customers with a qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours,”
Any passports that were received before March 19th were processed, but for most American tourists the ability to get a new passport or a passport renewal has been nearly impossible for months.
By September, the extremely large backlog of passport applications that were waiting to be processed when the shutdown happened in mid-March were finally caught up on.
Wait times for processing are currently averaging around 10 – 12 weeks, but applicants can pay an extra $60 to cut that time in half, around 4 – 6 weeks instead.
By Mail Encouraged
The government is encouraging everyone to mail in their application at this time, but also have a list of reopened acceptance facilities that include places like post offices and libraries.
No in-person appointments are currently available for general passport processing.
Passport services that can be done by mail include:
- Renewing your U.S. passport
- Changing your name in a U.S. passport
- Correcting an error in your U.S. passport
- Applying for your first U.S. passport card if you already have a U.S. passport book
- Applying for your first U.S. passport book if you already have a U.S. passport card
- Replacing a limited-validity (valid for less than 10 years) passport
- Reporting a passport lost or stolen
An extreme 72-hour rush, along with an in-person appointment is only available for those who find themselves in life or death situations. That could include a serious illness or death in the immediate family that requires urgent travel outside of the U.S.
The current price for an adult passport (ages 16 and older) is $145
After mailing in applications, tracking info and status updates are available online by entering last name, date of birth, and the last four digits of your social security number.
Sources: US Government
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories