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Tracking Your Passport Status Updates: A Step-By-Step Guide

someone checking their passport status updates on a laptop

You can’t travel abroad without a valid passport. Once you apply, the waiting game begins. You’re left checking your mailbox wondering if your passport will arrive in time for your upcoming international adventure or that critical business trip. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Being able to locate and understand your passport application status is crucial in planning your journey with confidence and keeping your travel plans on track. What’s more, it’s easy.

This comprehensive guide is designed to demystify the process of checking your passport application status, ensuring you’re well-informed and prepared. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or applying for your first passport, this guide will give you the information you need to figure out where your new passport is and when you can expect it to arrive.

Overview of the Passport Application Process

Applying for a passport feels like a journey in itself. It requires patience and an understanding of the process. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Application Submission: The journey begins with submitting your passport application. This can be done in person at a passport acceptance facility (if you are applying for a new passport) or by mail (if you are renewing a passport). Ensure your application is complete and accompanied by the necessary documents to avoid delays.
  2. Processing Timeframes: The processing time for a passport application can range from weeks to months. Currently, the process takes from 7 to 10 weeks for routine service and 3 to 5 weeks for expedited service. These timeframes can vary based on demand, so it’s wise to apply well in advance of your planned travel date.
  3. Application Status Check: About 7-10 days after submitting your application, you can start checking its status. This is where our guide comes into play, offering you step-by-step instructions on how to track your application’s progress.
  4. Receipt of Your Passport: Once processed, you’ll receive your passport via mail. If you’ve opted for expedited service, you may also receive it through expedited shipping, depending on the delivery service you selected.
  5. Post-Application: After receiving your passport, it’s important to check all the details for accuracy. Any discrepancies should be reported immediately.

For complete, step-by-step help with the passport application process, be sure to check out our guides to passport renewals and getting a new passport.

In the following sections, we’ll delve into the specifics of how to check your passport application status, what different status updates mean, and what steps to take if you encounter issues. As always, our goal is to provide you with a clear, step-by-step guide, ensuring you’re equipped with all the information you need for a smooth and stress-free passport application experience.

Detailed Guide to Checking Passport Status

Checking your passport application status can be straightforward if you know where to look and what steps to follow. This section provides a detailed, user-friendly guide to help you track your passport application’s progress.

1. Checking Your Passport Status Online

The most convenient way to check your passport status is online. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Step 1 – Visit the Official Website: Go to the U.S. Department of State’s passport status website.
  • Step 2 – Enter Your Information: You will need to provide your last name (including suffixes), date of birth (in the format MM/DD/YYYY), and the last four digits of your Social Security Number.
  • Step 3 – View Your Status: After entering your details, your current passport status will be displayed. The status may be ‘Not Found‘, ‘In Process‘, ‘Approved‘, or ‘Mailed‘.
  • Pro Tip: For added convenience, sign up for automatic email updates on the status of your application. You will get notified electronically any time the status of your application changes.

2. Checking Your Passport Status by Phone

If you prefer to check your status by phone or need additional assistance, here’s what you can do:

  • Step 1 – Call the National Passport Information Center: Dial 1-877-487-2778 or 1-888-874-7793 (TDD/TTY). The center operates Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.
  • Step 2 – Prepare Your Information: Have your last name, date of birth, and the last four digits of your Social Security Number ready.
  • Step 3 – Follow the Prompts: An automated system will guide you through the process. If needed, you can also speak to a customer service representative for more detailed inquiries.

3. Checking Your Status Through a Passport Expediter

If you need a passport as fast as possible, a passport expediting service can help. Not only can these professional courier services speed up your wait for a travel document, but they can also help with the application process—including providing regular status updates.

If you expedite your passport application with an expediter’s help, the expediter becomes your point of contact for checking up on your application’s status. You should be provided with both contact information and a reference number or code by your expeditor to make this process as simple as possible. Be sure to keep these details somewhere safe so you have them when you need them.

For more, consult our Ultimate U.S. Traveler’s Guide to Passport Expediters. This guide, based on over 20 years of helping readers like you get their passports quickly and easily, will help you understand what professional passport expediters do, how to find a reputable service, and more of our advice and recommendations about how they can help you get your travel documents fast.

 Understanding Your Passport Application Status

There are 4 common status updates you can get from the U.S. Department of State:

  • Not Found: This status typically appears if it’s been less than 7-10 days since you submitted your application or if there was an error in the information you provided. If you just submitted your application, be patient. You should get an update soon.
  • In Process: Your application was received and is being reviewed. This is the most common status and can last until the final processing stages. Know that you will not be able to get any additional clarity about how the process is going beyond this. Calling or submitting additional status requests won’t provide any additional information while the application is being processed.
  • Approved: Your application has been processed successfully, and your passport is being prepared for mailing.
  • Mailed: Your passport has been dispatched to the address you provided. This status usually includes a tracking number for your convenience.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

There are several types of problems passport applicants may encounter along the way. Here are several of the common problems and their practical solutions.

1. Delayed Application Status

  • Scenario: Your passport application status hasn’t been updated for an extended period.
  • Solution: Verify the information you provided. If correct, contact the National Passport Information Center for assistance. Keep your application number handy for reference. Know that you will likely receive the “In Process” status for the majority of the time you are waiting for your new passport to be issued.

2. Incorrect Information on Passport

  • Scenario: You receive a passport with errors in your personal details.
  • Solution: Report any discrepancies immediately to the U.S. Department of State. From there, you will need to follow these steps to correct passport errors. You can avoid having to pay additional fees for a corrected passport if you report the issue(s) promptly.

3. Lost or Stolen Passport

  • Scenario: Your passport is reported as mailed, but your passport has not been received. You suspect it is lost or stolen.
  • Solution: Even if you have not received your new passport, if it was issued and mailed, it’s a valid passport. So, if it is missing, you need to treat it as if it was lost or stolen in transit.

    Contact the National Passport Information Center immediately. You may need to complete Form DS-64 to report the lost or stolen passport.

    Then, follow these step-by-step guides to both replace your lost passport and protect yourself from passport-related identity theft.

Conclusion

Navigating the passport application process and understanding how to check your passport status is straightforward if you know what to do and what information you can expect to receive.

Remember, the key to a stress-free passport application process is preparation and staying informed. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that you’re well-prepared for your next international adventure or important trip.

Be sure to keep up with all the latest news and advice about passports, visas, and international travel. Subscribe to our blog for all the latest updates. We will keep this article updated to reflect any changes in the passport status tracking process.

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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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