Why Does It Take Long To Get A Passport?

All over the world there is usually a waiting time associated with getting a passport. It is for this reason that travel agents urge their clients to ensure that they begin the process of getting or renewing their passports well ahead of their travel plans. Many travelers have often asked why it takes long to get a passport. They also want to know if there is anything they can do to speed it up, so they can go ahead with their travel plans.

Depending on where you want to go, a passport may be required for your travels, and so it is in your best interest to patiently wait until the passport arrives. It can also serve as a means of identification for you, as well as facilitate travel to even more destinations across the world.

Why Does It Take Long To Get A Passport?

The volume of work is enormous; the passport office processes literally thousands of passport applications per week, no doubt affecting the speed of the output.

Some factors that may affect the processing and delivery of a passport include: vetting of the documents provided, verifying the information received, printing the passport, and delivery. One factor that most people ignore is that passports can spend a further 3 weeks on the road- It takes time for the passport to get to you even after been sent by the passport office.

The Department of State stipulates that Routine passport processing takes from 8 to 11 weeks. That does not count the time it takes to deliver said passport into account.

Is There Anything You Can Do To Speed It Up?

The Department of State understands that there may be valid reasons why some individuals may need to have their passports faster than usual. For these ones there are a number of options through which the passports may be obtained.

Expedited Passports

5 to 7 weeks

Expedited Passports usually take between 5 to 7 weeks to process. Most people find this quite adequate because it means they can get the passports in about half the usual time. To get your passport in this way you need to get and fill the Form DS-82: which is the U.S. Passport Renewal Application Form.

You can get it online at the Department of State website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/have-passport/renew.html which you can access by just copying and pasting the link in your browser.

When the page loads up, you will find options (at the top) to fill the form online, or to download and print the form before filling it. Please fill the correct form: there is one for applications and another for renewals. If you fill the form online using the Form Filler feature, the system will change to the proper form if you choose the wrong one.

You will need to provide a Social Security number, if you have been issued one. If you do not have a Social Security number, you will need to write up a declaration that says: “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the following is true and correct:  I have never been issued a Social Security Number by the Social Security Administration.”

Please remember that you must fill the form completely, as well as sign and date it. Please ensure that you print the form single sided.

Expedited At Agency

To Travel Within 14 Calendar Days

It does not take long to get a passport if you apply for an expedited passport at an agency. There are many passport agencies around the country, you can find a passport agency near you using the feature of the State Department Website: https://iafdb.travel.state.gov/ which you do by copying and pasting the link in your browser.

Before going to the passport office, you have to call ahead by dialing; 1-877-487-2778. Please note that you cannot just walk into the office and demand an appointment.

Usually, this option is reserved for those who have to travel urgently. This means you will have to show that you have travel arrangements which will be hampered without the passport.

You will still need to fill the form, and to provide your social security number and so on. You will also need to provide a passport photo, which you can also take at the passport office.

Please note that aside from the passport processing fee of $130, and the acceptance fee of $35, you will still need to pay an additional fee of $60 to expedite the passport.

Life Or Death Emergency

3 Days

This is the quickest way to expedite a passport, although as the name suggests, there has to be a serious reason why the office has to by-pass hundreds or thousands of passports on queue to jump to yours. Acceptable reasons why these kinds of passports are done include:

If someone is in a critical condition abroad and needs your care.

If someone has been involved in an accident and needs your care.

If someone has just died abroad.

This passport takes around 3 working days to process; it just falls on you to ensure that you provide all the necessary documentation so as to allow the authorities produce your passport in a timely manner.

To schedule this type of appointment; call 1-877-487-2778. This is because you cannot just walk into the passport office, and demand that a passport be made out for you.

Of course you will still need to fill out a passport application form, which you can obtain using the link given earlier. You will need a passport photo, and an ID. They can take a photo for you at the Passport Office and this is the best option, unless you meet a professional, and specify that the photo will be used for a travel passport. This is because there are certain specifications which the passport must meet, otherwise it will be refused.

Please ensure that you appear at the passport office on time, on the scheduled date.

What Else Can You Do?

As mentioned in the introduction; one reason why it takes so long to get a passport is that the passport spends a long time on the road before reaching you. It is possible to avoid this unnecessary delay by electing to have your passport delivered to you using a courier service. You can request this during the passport appointment.

Some courier services even have same day delivery; which means that you can have your passport within 4-10 days, depending on your particular circumstances, and on the way you’ve elected to have it processed.



It takes so long to get a passport because there are literally hundreds of applications at the passport office at this very moment. The volume of work obviously slows the process down considerably. The State Department says a passport should be ready between 7 to 11 weeks after application, but it is common to have to wait for up to 13 weeks, unless the process is expedited, in which case it could take around 4 weeks.

If you need your passport in a hurry then you should request to have it sent to you via courier; passports have been known to spend up to 3 weeks on the road before reaching their owners.

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