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Passport Processing Update: Faster Times & Urgent Passport Solutions

a young couple look through their passports and smile

The U.S. State Department has significantly improved passport processing times, gradually approaching their pre-pandemic efficiency. Here’s a detailed look at the current situation and options for expedited service if you need a passport.

Processing Times Approach Pre-Pandemic Speeds

Passport processing times have come a long way from their peak of 13 weeks during the pandemic. Mailing delays pushed made these wait times even longer for many applicants.

The latest update as of December 18, 2023, indicates processing within 6-8 weeks for routine service and 2-3 weeks for expedited service (for an additional fee of $60)​​​​.

These times are nearing the pre-pandemic norm of 4-6 weeks for routine processing. This improvement reflects the dedicated efforts of the State Department’s staff to streamline operations and handle the high demand efficiently​​.

What If You Still Need a Passport Faster?

While the latest improvement in passport processing times is good news for those making international travel plans, it may not be fast enough for your needs. Urgent travel situations happen. The good news is that you can still get a passport in time for sudden business trips, family emergencies, or last-minute getaways.

If you need a passport sooner than 2 weeks, you have two options:

Option 1: Expedite Your Passport at a Regional Passport Agency

If you need a passport in 2 weeks or less, or a passport and entry visa in 4 weeks or less, you can visit one of the 26 regional passport agencies located in major U.S. cities across the country.

This process includes multiple steps:

Demand at regional passport agencies is usually quite high. The time taken for processing can vary depending on the agency and the current volume of applications​​. In some cases, you may get your passport issued the same day you apply, but you could also have to wait up to 8 business days.

For more, visit our step-by-step guide to getting a passport at a regional passport agency.

Option 2: Get Help from a Registered Passport Expediting Service

There are a number of reasons why you may not be able to (or want to) visit a regional passport agency on your own:

  • Lack of appointments
  • Inability to travel to a regional agency
  • Work commitments
  • Family commitments
  • Inconvenience

For individuals unable to visit regional agencies, registered passport expediters offer a valuable service. They handle the submission of applications at regional agencies and monitor the process closely on your behalf.

Expediters guide clients in preparing the correct forms, hand-deliver applications for expedited service, and even arrange for the passport’s delivery.

The best passport expediters have offices near multiple regional passport agencies, so they are able to get your application to the location with the availability to issue your passport the fastest.

What’s more, while passport expediters charge a fee for their services, the total cost of getting a passport with an expediter’s help can wind up being less than what you would pay applying at a regional passport agency on your own.

For more information about how passport expediters work, how to find the best one for your needs, and our expert recommendations, visit our Ultimate U.S. Traveler’s Guide to Passport Expediters.

Conclusion

The U.S. State Department has made commendable progress in reducing passport processing times, moving closer to the pre-pandemic norm. For urgent needs, regional passport agencies and registered passport expediters offer viable options. Regardless of the method you choose, our expert advice is always to apply well in advance of any international travel to avoid last-minute stress and disrupted plans.

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About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

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