As long as you’re an American citizen, you qualify for a US passport, which allows you to travel to almost any country in the world. But how many Americans have actually taken the government up on this offer?
According to social travel start-up Tripl, 115 million Americans currently have passports. That may sound like a lot, but it’s only about 37 percent of the population. To put that number into perspective, 155 million Americans, or 50 percent of the population, have an account on Facebook.
So, at least for now, more Americans are on Facebook than have a passport!
Why don’t more Americans have passports? There are probably a number of factors at play. For one thing, America is a big country, so there’s no shortage of potential vacation spots that don’t require one. For another, getting a US passport involves a significant up-front cost, especially if you have a family. There’s also the perception that the passport application process is cumbersome and time-consuming.
Still, looking at Tripl’s infographic, there are some tantalizing hints that perhaps the rise of social networking sites may eventually help increase the number of Americans that travel abroad. For instance, 96% of US college students are on Facebook. 52% of those students said that they had planned trips based on photos their friends posted on Facebook, and 45% said that Facebook had inspired them to visit a friend in another country.
If you need a US passport, keep in mind that it does generally take about 6 weeks for a passport application to be processed. If you apply for expedited processing, you can cut that down to three weeks, but that still means you need to plan ahead.
If that’s not fast enough, you can make an appointment at a regional passport agency office. These offices issue emergency passports and are generally located in major cities; there are currently 24 of them in the US. A more convenient option is to use a private expediting company like RushMyPassport. We take your US passport application right to the Department of State for processing in as little as 24 hours!