Passport Operations in Response to COVID-19

COVID-19 Alert
February 2, 2021

Update on U.S. Passport Operations

You can find Frequently Asked Questions about U.S. passport operations by expanding the gray boxes below.

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1. What is the current status of passport operations?

You can now apply for routine service and expect to receive a passport in 10-12 weeks*. You also have the option of paying an additional $60 for expedited service to receive your passport in 4-6 weeks.

These processing times apply to applications submitted by mail and in-person at an acceptance facility in your community. Most acceptance facilities such as post offices, clerks of court, and libraries are open and accepting passport applications. We encourage you to apply by mail when possible because it is a safe, contactless option for certain services. See question #3 for more details.

We are experiencing delays in receiving passport applications due to unprecedented mail volume and other COVID-19 impacts on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). If you plan to expedite your passport application due to upcoming travel plans, we recommend that you send your application using USPS’ Priority Mail Express.

All of our agencies and centers are processing passport applications. Because of increases in COVID-19 cases and changing local health conditions, agencies and centers are offering extremely limited in-person services if you need to travel internationally in the next 72 hours (3 business days). See question #5 for more details.

*Due to nationwide variations in staffing and temporary closures of some facilities due to COVID-19 cases, a small percentage of routine applications are taking longer than 12 weeks to process. If you applied for routine service more than 12 weeks ago and have not received your passport yet, we may also have sent you a letter requesting additional information to continue processing your application. Please respond to this letter

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3. What should I expect when applying at an acceptance facility?

If you need to apply in person, we recommend you apply at an acceptance facility. Children under age 16, all first-time applicants, and applicants who have lost their passport or had their passport stolen must apply in-person. These locations include post offices, clerks of court, libraries, and local government offices. Contact your local acceptance facility to confirm it is open before you apply. Some locations may require appointments to enable social distancing. If you want to apply at a post office, you will need to make an appointment on the USPS.com website.

When you apply at an acceptance facility, you can select routine service (receive your passport in 10-12 weeks) or expedited service (receive your passport in 4-6 weeks). Expedited service costs an additional $60 per application.

We are experiencing delays in receiving passport applications due to unprecedented mail volume and other COVID-19 impacts on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). If you plan to expedite your passport application due to upcoming travel plans, we recommend that you ask the acceptance facility to send your application using USPS’ Priority Mail Express.

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4. What should I expect when applying by mail?

We encourage you to apply by mail when possible because it is a safe, contactless option for certain services. There is no need to be physically present at an acceptance facility, passport agency, or passport center for any of the following services:

  • Renew your U.S. passport
  • Change your name in a U.S. passport
  • Correct an error in your U.S. passport
  • Apply for your first U.S. passport card if you already have a U.S. passport book
  • Apply for your first U.S. passport book if you already have a U.S. passport card
  • Replace a limited-validity (valid for less than 10 years) passport
  • Report a passport lost or stolen (Note: You cannot replace a lost or stolen passport by mail, but you can report it as lost or stolen.)

Learn if you are eligible to apply by mail. Get started.

For mail-in services, you can select routine service (receive your passport in 10-12 weeks) or expedited service (receive your passport in 4-6 weeks). Expedited service costs an additional $60 per application.

We are experiencing delays in receiving passport applications due to unprecedented mail volume and other COVID-19 impacts on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). If you plan to expedite your passport application due to upcoming travel plans, we recommend that you send your application using USPS’ Priority Mail Express.

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5. What should I expect if I need to apply at a passport agency or center?

Because of increases in COVID-19 cases and changing local health conditions, agencies and centers are offering extremely limited in-person services if you need to travel internationally in the next 72 hours (3 business days). Plan ahead and apply early by mail or at a local acceptance facility.

Life-or-Death Emergency Service: To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect our workforce and customers, in-person appointments at our agencies and centers are extremely limited. We are prioritizing customers who are traveling internationally in the next 72 hours (3 business days) due to a qualified life-or-death emergency. If you need this service, you must call us. Limited staffing at our agencies and centers means we may not have an appointment available. 

Urgent Travel Service: Some agencies and centers are also offering extremely limited appointments for customers who have urgent international travel in the next 72 hours (3 business days) for reasons other than a life-or-death emergency. To try to make an appointment, visit our Online Appointment System first. The date of your appointment must be within 3 business days of your international travel. If you need a foreign visa, the date of your appointment must be within 10 business days of your international travel. Because appointments are extremely limited, you may not be able to make one on your first try.

Consider the following alternate options if you cannot make an appointment online for Urgent Travel Service:

  1. Continue to check our Online Appointment System several times during the day as other customers may cancel their appointments.
  2. Apply for expedited service to receive your passport in 4-6 weeks.
  3. Call wait times are longer than usual. If you call us to try to make an appointment, understand that customer service representatives do not have access to an alternate reservation system. What you see online is what they will share with you by phone.  

Preparing for your Appointment: Collect all of your application materials before you arrive for your appointment. Use our online form filler to fill out your form and print it before you arrive for your appointment. You can also print a PDF of your form and complete it by hand in black ink before you arrive. Both of these options reduce the amount of time you spend in our lobby on the day of your appointment.

Arriving to your Appointment: In our waiting rooms, we have fewer chairs and more signage to enable social distancing. We require appointments, and we currently do not offer walk-in services. Staff and customers must wear face coverings in common areas.

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6. Are you making progress on pending U.S. passport applications?

Yes. From June 11 through October 1, we published U.S. passport statistics every Thursday in the table below. Our October 1st update was our last weekly update since we are now offering routine and expedited service commitments. You can now find FY 2020 statistics on our Reports and Statistics page.

Week (Thursday-Wednesday)

Applications Received

Passports Awaiting Issuance

Passports Issued*

Sep 24-30

176,000 923,000 168,000

Sep 17-23

179,000 934,000 165,000

Sep 10-16

143,000 931,000 149,000

*The number of passports issued can vary due to many factors such as staffing levels and local conditions, which may require an agency to temporarily close.

 

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7. I have a pending application. Can I upgrade it for expedited service?

Yes. We now offer routine service in 10-12 weeks and expedited service in 4-6 weeks. If you applied and have not received your passport, you may call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 and request to expedite your passport in 4-6 weeks.

Check the status of your passport online or by calling us at 1-877-487-2778.

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8. Are passport agencies and centers still reopening?

Yes. While we are no longer referring to the phases of reopening because changes in phases no longer impact the services you will receive, all agencies and centers are processing applications. Not all agencies and centers are offering the same level of in-person service due to increases in COVID-19 cases and local health conditions which may limit our staffing. 

Visit our Passport Agency and Center page to learn more about the type of in-person services available at each agency and center, and how to make an appointment if you have urgent travel. Please note the number of appointments available may vary from week to week. 

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9. When will you return to your normal service times?

We continue to work to reduce processing times for both routine and expedited service, while protecting the health and safety of our staff and customers. We will re-evaluate the processing times on a rolling basis and will adjust them downward as resources allow.

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10. Can I request a refund?

If you paid the $60 fee for expedited service when you applied and you did not receive expedited service, you can request a refund of this fee. We cannot refund any other passport fees or your travel expenses if you missed your trip.

Please note we stopped offering expedited service on March 19 and resumed offering this service on September 28. You can learn more about how to request a refund of the expedited passport fee on our Refunds page.

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11. Is it safe to travel internationally?

Conditions vary depending upon location. We continue to recommend U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic. Check our country-specific information pages to make an informed decision about your travel.