March 10th was the Department of State’s fourth annual “Passport Day in the USA” event, and by all accounts it was a smashing success. Passport offices around the country pulled out all the stops to make applying for a passport more convenient, less costly and even more fun. Participation was up at most locations, too, especially at agencies in border states.
What is Passport Day in the USA?
Passport Day in the USA is an annual event observed at regional Passport Agencies and passport acceptance offices all over the country. The Department of State began holding Passport Day in 2008 to help citizens prepare for more stringent passport requirements that went into effect in 2009, as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.
Passport Day is always held on a Saturday, usually in spring to help people get ready for summer travel. During Passport Day, the Department of State’s 24 regional passport agency offices are open to accept passport applications on Saturday with no appointment. Generally, these offices are only open weekdays by appointment only.
This year, many of the agencies also waived the $60 expedite fee for people who needed their passports in three weeks instead of the normal six. The passport agency in New Hampshire even offered photo ops with its mascot, a giant passport named Passport Pal.
Post offices, county clerks and other passport acceptance facilities also participated in various ways. Some opened on Saturday when they would normally be closed, or extended their Saturday hours. Others offered free passport photos, and some had cookies and other refreshments out for applicants.
Passport Day By the Numbers
This year’s Passport Day comes in the midst of a busy passport season:
- In El Paso, more than 400 people showed up to apply, compared to 160 people last year.
- The Connecticut Passport Agency in Norwalk, Connecticut, received over 500 applications on Passport Day, which is about the same number they normally receive in a typical week!
- Nationwide, about 25,000 people submitted a passport application during Passport Day.
Did You Miss Passport Day?
Passport Day is a great day to apply for a passport but if you missed it, don’t wait for it to come back around next year. Go ahead and turn in your application! Depending on how busy the Department of State is, you could be waiting around for six weeks or even longer for your passport to arrive in the mail! Even with the Department of State’s expedited service, you’re still looking at around three weeks.
Faster service is available at a regional passport agency, but you may not have one nearby, and except for Passport Day they have limited, week-day only operating hours and require an appointment.
A private passport expediting service like RushMyPassport is more convenient, as there’s no need to make an appointment or wait in line. We hand-deliver your paperwork to the Department of State, so your passport will be on its way back to you in as little as 24 hours. If you missed Passport Day, don’t worry– we’ve got you covered.
Expedite your passport application today!
Image Credit: Some rights reserved by Andrew.Beebe