What are the current realistic processing times for receiving a U.S. passport?
April 28, 2010 3:03 PM   Subscribe

What are the current realistic processing times for receiving a U.S. passport?

I recently applied to get a new passport. It's not a renewal (since my last one was issued more than 15 years ago), it's the full application for a new one. I went with the "routine service" route and not expedited service.

When submitting the application in person they provided a date exactly six weeks out by which I should receive the passport. This more or less matches the application processing times listed at http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/processing/processing_1740.html

What's the likelihood I'll receive it before the six weeks are up? I'm interested in taking a trip that would begin a few days before the six week deadline. I fear the worst case scenario of having a plane ticket and no passport on traveling day. On the other hand, I've heard from a few people that apparently experienced fairly quick turnaround times with getting their passport.
posted by 1001 questions to Travel & Transportation (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
My girlfriend applied for a "new" passport (the old one was issued when she was 14 or so, and thus counts as a new application) and the turnaround time was 3-4 weeks with routine processing. I think the likelihood that you'll receive it in time is very good... but then again, was it not worth $60 to make sure you could go on the trip? :)
posted by speedgraphic at 3:04 PM on April 28, 2010


I should have noted that she applied about a month ago, so I would imagine processing times would be similar, but then again, travel season has begun approaching rapidly since then.
posted by speedgraphic at 3:05 PM on April 28, 2010


was it not worth $60 to make sure you could go on the trip?

I should note that at the time I submitted the application I didn't have any travel plans.
posted by 1001 questions at 3:09 PM on April 28, 2010


You may be able to upgrade to expedited service. Try calling them and seeing if they'll let you. You may have to wait until you can see on their website that they have accepted your application.
posted by soelo at 3:10 PM on April 28, 2010


I renewed my passport early last year, at about the tail end of the "rush" caused by the new immigration rules for Canada. I think they told me it would take about 3 months and I got it in three weeks.
posted by backseatpilot at 3:51 PM on April 28, 2010


What's the likelihood I'll receive it before the six weeks are up?

Who knows? My daughter and I applied for out passports at literally the same time (same location, post office worker etc). She got hers back in 4 weeks, took mine 8 weeks and they spelled my name wrong (could they not even double check the birth certificate, WTF?!). So it's a crap shoot.

I'd call and explain your situation, see if you can pay to get it spend up.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:17 PM on April 28, 2010


I had the exact situation last year & got mine back in under five weeks (more like four). You can go online after about three weeks and checkn on status & inform them if it's getting too close.
posted by Pressed Rat at 4:33 PM on April 28, 2010


I got mine in about 3-4 weeks last year.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:38 PM on April 28, 2010


US State Department says 4-6 weeks if you get paperwork in today.

You can track your application online also.

If you're near a regional passport agency you can, in a pinch, get an appointment there to turbo-renew (or issue) your passport, or follow the instructions on their how to get a passport in a hurry page.

Seriously, the State Department is awesome about this stuff. Call and ask if you're worried.
posted by range at 4:45 PM on April 28, 2010


Last year 4 people I know all applied around the same time, one renewal and 3 new passports. We all got them in exactly 3 weeks.
posted by Duffington at 5:08 PM on April 28, 2010


We just got our brand new passports in March, expedited, in about ten days.
posted by tamitang at 5:35 PM on April 28, 2010


Another data point: 3-4 weeks, submitted the application in late October of last year.
posted by sacrifix at 7:13 PM on April 28, 2010


I did got a new passport in the same situation as you - previous passport had expired years before. However I did apply for expedited service though forgot to also specify expedited mail in either direction.

I applied about three weeks before a trip, and while they made absolutely no promises (and I mean explicitly told me they could not promise anything when I called them) they came through a week before my scheduled in-office appointment for double-super-duper expedited service.

I forget how close to the trip you can do this, but something like two weeks before your trip, if they haven't sent you your passport yet, you can schedule an in-person appointment. You'll have to pay again, and a premium, for the service, but chances are you will get your passport.
posted by zippy at 7:55 PM on April 28, 2010


You've had a passport previously, so it may be easier for you. But just as a general warning...

When moving one of the 15 or so times I've moved in the last 10 years, I lost my entire folder of ID documents. I had to order new everything (birth certificate, SS card, and I had moved to a new state so my license was new to boot), and because all the documents were recent, I had a hell of a time. Eventually, after 3 or so months of back and forth, my parents had to sign and have notarized affidavits that I was who I said I was, in addition to basically having to provide tons of data proving their own identities.

The moral of the story....when moving, carry your ID stuff with you.

My wife, who like you had a passport at 10 and which had expired? Whammo, went to some service and got it I think within a few days.
posted by nevercalm at 8:27 PM on April 28, 2010


Mrs Thabombshelter just got her passport, and it took just about a month start to finish. She didn't get the expedited service, just did everything through the post office.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 8:29 PM on April 28, 2010


I had my car broken into right after a trip to England years ago. They stole my passport, and I left it alone/forgot about it for years.

Later in life, I get a chance to go to SE Asia, and have to get a replacement PP within six months. I'm thinking "Shit, the last one took months to show up. I better get moving."

So I apply for one at my local post office in August, for a January trip, and the incredibly helpful PO guy says that I shouldn't waste money getting the rapid delivery, because I'll get it really soon. He was right, I got it 11 days after I applied. For some reason they really accelerated the process.

I can't guarantee your experience will be the same, but I'm wishing you luck. :)
posted by Sphinx at 10:23 PM on April 28, 2010


Data point: I renewed my passport a month back, using the expedited service. I had the new passport in hand in six days.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 3:55 AM on April 29, 2010


I had to expedite my son's passport, because I am an idiot, and neglected to get it rolling promptly. Paid to expedite. The tracking, phone-calling and other assistance were useless. This was 6 years ago. Called my Congressperson's office, and got it in time for our flight. This is one of the big things they do for citizens.
posted by theora55 at 6:42 AM on April 29, 2010


As range says above, if you're anywhere near a Regional Passport Agency and you need a passport for travel, visit them and let them know your travel date. They will get you your passport before you travel, but you'll have to provide proof of travel.

If you walk into the New York Passport Agency and you're flying out the next day, they'll print your passport for you while you sit there and wait, you might have to wait all day, but they will get it for you.
posted by jardinier at 3:57 PM on April 29, 2010


I got mine in 6 hours after losing it the week before a European trip. I happened to work down the street from the local Passport Center, though.
posted by Blandanomics at 10:09 PM on April 29, 2010


FYI: I received the passport in about 3.5 weeks. This is less than the "approximately 4-6 weeks from the time of application" estimate.
posted by 1001 questions at 12:20 AM on May 13, 2010


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