Passport services are beginning to get back to normal following shutdowns of passport agencies due to the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year. Passport agencies and centers reopened in phases during the past couple of months and currently all facilities are open and accepting passport applications and most acceptance facilities such as post offices, clerks of court and libraries are also open and accepting applications which is great news! If you haven’t checked your expiration dates lately, now is a great time – go do it now, we’ll wait!
If you sent your passport in for renewal earlier this year, the State Department says they have finished processing applications received in June and prior months. They are well on their way through applications received in July and some of the passport agencies and centers are already working on applications received in August and September. If you applied before July and have not received your passport yet, they may have sent you a letter requesting additional information to continue processing your application. Please respond to this letter. You can check the status of your passport online or by calling 1-877-487-2778. If you have applied and not yet received your passport, you can call and request to add on the expedited service for an additional fee. We’ve heard some great success stories of people receiving their passports fairly quickly particularly when the expedited service is added.
Here are our best tips for passport renewal or first time application:
Apply by mail if possible
Adults renewing a 10 year passport are able to apply by mail using form DS-82 found online here.
Send in the form along with a new photo, your old passport, and payment for the fee
Don’t forget to sign the form – this is the most common mistake made
If you need to change your name be sure to include a certified copy of a legal document such as a marriage certificate or court document
Apply in time
Current processing times for routine service are 10-12 weeks according to the state department web site with a fee of $110
Expedited service is now once again available for an additional $60 to receive your passport in 4-6 weeks
Currently passport agencies are limiting in-person appointments to customers who are traveling internationally in the next 72 hours (3 business days) due to a life-or-death emergency.
Check your expiration date
The state department suggests beginning the renewal process about 1 year before your expiration date
We recommend noting this 1 year date on your calendar so that you don’t forget – 10 years is a long time and it’s easy to forget the expiration date until it’s too late
Most countries require two empty pages in order to enter so if your passport is filling up consider renewing now
Most countries and airlines also require your passport to be valid for six months past your dates of travel so make sure you take that into consideration as well and apply early
Take a good photo
You should submit a color photo taken within the last 6 months
Take a clear photo – do not use social media filters
Have someone else take your photo – no selfies
Have a neutral facial expression or natural smile with both eyes open
Use a plain white background
You cannot wear eyeglasses, a hat or head covering, headphones, or a uniform; you can wear jewelry
Photo size should be 2 x 2 inches and high resolution – not grainy or pixelated
Make sure your photo is not under- or over-exposed or contains a lot of shadows – these are the most common issues people face with their photos
Applying for the first time
You will have to apply in person at a passport acceptance facility which you can find here
We recommend if at all possible going to a facility that takes appointments, it’s worth the extra drive if that’s necessary rather than standing in line
Must apply in person at a passport acceptance facility
Only one parent needs to appear in person with the applicant – this is the main difference from applying for children under 16; this parent will need to provide photo ID along with a photocopy
You must submit citizenship evidence – either your existing passport if you had one or an original certified birth certificate along with a photocopy
If applicant has their own photo ID provide that as well as a photocopy
Whew! If you have any questions about the passport application process, reach out to us and we’ll be happy to help. We know from talking to our clients that they are going to want to get back to traveling as soon as possible. If that’s also you, take some time now to make sure your passport is up to date and has at least a year of validity left so you’re not stuck on the ground instead of jetting away!