If you’re considering traveling internationally in the near future, you will need a passport. Although the process of obtaining a passport can be daunting, this guide will help you understand where and how to get a new passport. In addition, you will learn about the required documents, fees, processing times, and how to get your passport fast if you need to travel soon.
Step 1: Decide How Quickly You Need Your New Passport
The first step towards applying for a new United States passport is understanding how soon you’re traveling, and how quickly you’ll need your passport to ensure it’s delivered prior to your trip. If you’re planning to leave the country sooner than later, you’ll likely need some type of expedited passport service. Current routine processing for a passport currently takes up to 8 weeks If you want to get your passport in time, it’s important to choose the right expediting method from the start.
Expedited Passport Service at a Passport Acceptance Office
One option for expediting your United States passport is by requesting standard expedited services at the post office or another passport acceptance office. You’ll pay a $60 expediting fee along with your regular application fees. And if you want overnight delivery, you’ll pay an additional shipping fee. Expediting at the post office will only get you 2-3 weeks service and is not guaranteed. Additionally, if there are any issues with your documents, your passport could be delayed.
Expedited Service at a Regional Passport Agency
Another path to getting a new passport is to attempt to schedule an appointment with a Regional Passport Agency, although there are some requirements. You must be departing for your international travel within 8 days or less or if you’re leaving in the next month and need to get a visa before you travel. In this situation, Regional Passport Agencies will typically get your passport to you within 8 business days, however, these appointments can be hard to obtain.
There are only a handful of regional passport agencies serving the entire country, and international travel. So, you may have to travel to get to the nearest one. Additionally, passport agencies tend to have limited operating hours. If you work during the day and can’t get time off, this may not be an option for you.
At a Regional Passport Agency, you’ll pay the same additional $60 expediting fee you’d pay if you were applying for passport expedited service at a Passport Acceptance Office.
Using a Passport Expediting Company
If you need your passport faster than a Passport Acceptance Office or the post office can provide, but you can’t (or simply don’t want to) go to a regional passport agency, then look into using a passport expediting company. A registered passport expediting company will take your application documents to the Department of State, where they will be processed in as little as 7 business days. The company will then ship your new passport back to you, usually overnight.
In addition to reducing the time it takes to receive a United States passport, using an expediter also reduces the chance of mistakes that could delay your application. If there is a holdup at the passport office, the expediting company can inform you immediately so that corrections can be made, and your passport can make its way through processing and back to you in time for your trip.
When you use an expediting company, the first thing you’ll do is place an order. You’ll pay the expediting company for handling your application, and then you’ll pay the application and government fees separately, typically via check or money order.
Step 2: Gather Your Documents
Outside of your passport application, there are several required documents and forms of identification necessary to get a new passport. If you use an expediting company, they will likely assist you in gathering the necessary documents. Here at RushMyPassport, we send out a comprehensive checklist and assign a case manager to help you with any questions or problems you may have. Here’s a breakdown of the documents you’ll need to gather:
- Proof of Identity: State Department-approved photo IDs include a driver’s license or state ID card, a previous US passport or passport card, a Certificate of Naturalization, a Certificate of Citizenship, a military ID, or a government ID card. You’ll need the original and a photocopy of the front and back.
- Proof of Citizenship: Submit either a previous US passport, a certified birth certificate, a Certificate of Naturalization, a Certificate of Citizenship, or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad.
- One passport photo.
- Passport fees. For new passports, there’s an application fee of $130 for a passport book, $30 for a passport card, and $160 for both. There’s also an execution fee of $35, as well as a $60 expedite fee. Learn more about passport fees here.
- Passport Application Form DS-11
- Going to a Passport Agency or using an expediting service? You’ll need a copy of your itinerary, too. However, business travelers who haven’t booked a flight yet can use a letter from their employer.
Step 3: Fill Out Your New Passport Application
The next step is to fill out the application form for your new passport. Filling it out online and printing is recommended, as it will ensure that your application isn’t delayed due to the passport office not being able to read your handwriting. If you don’t have access to a printer, you can get a copy of the application at the post office. If you do, make sure to fill it out in black ink and write neatly. If you’re using Form DS-11, don’t sign it until you’re in front of an agent at the post office, otherwise, you may be forced to start over.
Step 4: Visit A Passport Acceptance Agent
For all new passport applications in the United States a visit to a passport acceptance agent, also known as an adjudication agent, is required. The acceptance agent will verify the identity, the documentation, and the signature of the applicant. There is currently no way around this step, however, there are over 8,000 acceptance agents across the country usually located at your local library, county clerk, or post office. A separate fee of $35, known as the execution fee, is collected at this visit.
This process doesn’t have to be difficult. While many locations may require an appointment, locations at a library or county clerk’s office may have walk-in hours available. We highly recommend searching several locations in your area to find an acceptance agent with convenient hours and availability prior to choosing the correct method to obtain a passport. This step in the process is extremely important and can impact the time it takes to get your new passport. Use this tool to find a passport acceptance agent near you.
When using an expediting company, a letter of authorization (LOA) is also required at this step. This will be included in the documents supplied by the expediting company. The acceptance agent will seal and include the letter of authorization alongside all of your other documents in the adjudicated envelope. Then take this envelope and ship it off to your expeditor for service.
Step 5: Wait For Your New Passport to Arrive
Congratulations, you’ve done all the hard work. Now, all that’s left to be done is to wait. Passport processing times are fairly accurate, however, any mistakes or missing documents will cause lengthy processing delays. Additionally, high-volume seasonality such as holidays, or instances of natural disasters can impact processing times.
You can check the status of your passport through the Department of State website. If you use an expediting company, you should receive updates on your order as it’s processed. If you use RushMyPassport, you can track your order here, and agents are available by phone, email, or live chat to assist you if you have further questions.
Get Your Passport Fast With RushMyPassport
If you need a passport quickly, but don’t have the time or patience to go to a passport agency, RushMyPassport can help. With services ranging from new passports, passport renewals, child passports, or replacing a lost or stolen passport, RushMyPassport is the most convenient way to get a passport in a hurry!