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You Can Expect “Several Months” of Delays for U.S. Passport Services

By Michelle Baran

May 14, 2020

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Passport agency services have been scaled back.

Photo by Kristi Blokhin/Shutterstock

Passport agency services have been scaled back.

U.S. passport agencies are prioritizing passports for life-or-death emergencies. All other passport services are either on hold or will require up to several months to be processed.

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In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. State Department is focusing in-person passport services on those who need a passport for a life-or-death emergency for immediate international travel within 72 hours.

“Unless you have a life-or-death emergency, please wait to apply for or renew your passport or you will experience significant delays of several months to receive your U.S. passport and your citizenship evidence documents,” the State Department said in a May 1 statement.

Other than passports needed for life-or-death emergencies, all other expedited passport processing services are not currently available. Life-or-death emergencies include serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family—that is, a parent, child, spouse, sibling, aunt, or uncle. The situation must require you to travel outside the United States in three days’ time.

In order to get the expedited passport for said emergencies, the State Department is asking that applicants provide a standard passport application with supporting documents and proof of the emergency, such as a death certificate or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional. (The documents must be English or a translated version must be supplied.) You must also offer proof of your upcoming international travel such as your airline ticket.

How to check on your passport status

Regardless of whether you have already applied for a new passport or plan to, you can expect to experience months-long delays, according to the State Department.

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Futhermore, while the State Department is still accepting applications and payments for passport services, it is not able to provide a specific update on when you will receive your passport and when we will return your citizenship evidence documents until we resume normal operations.

If you call or check online, your application status might simply be listed as Not Found or In Process,” the State Department noted.

In other words, expect to be in limbo potentially for months.

Are passport agencies open right now?

The majority of passport agencies remain open during the coronavirus pandemic, but the passport agencies in Connecticut and New York are currently closed until further notice.

Additionally, numerous passport application acceptance facilities, which include libraries, courthouses, and post offices, are not accepting U.S. passport applications at this time. As of March 25, 2020, post offices that are still accepting applications are requiring that customers make an appointment online before coming in to apply for a U.S. passport in person.

A list of the facilities still handling regular passport issuance was not provided, so the best idea is to contact the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778 to find out what services each individual facility is offering.

This story was originally published on April 3, 2020, and was updated on May 14 to include current information.

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