Need A New U.S. Passport Fast? Here’s How You Can Speed Up the Process
From emergency travel to suddenly realizing your passport has expired right before a big international trip, there are numerous situations that might require a quick passport turnaround.
Whether last-minute travel plans have suddenly sprung up or a big international trip is here before you had time to double-check the expiration date on your passport, it’s not uncommon for travelers to have to expedite their U.S. passport applications.
Several other situations might require a new or renewed passport in a hurry as well. For example, some countries don’t permit entry if your passport has less than six months of validity. Some international destinations, like South Africa, require that you have at least two consecutive blank pages in your passport book. It’s important to check the U.S. State Department’s website for each country’s visa and passport requirements or contact your airline or travel agency before you hit the road to make sure that your travel documents will be accepted upon arrival.
The process (for both renewing and getting a new passport quickly) is fairly similar to the regular application process, which can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Due to a big surge in demand for new and renewed U.S. passports—the U.S. State Department processed nearly 22 million passports in 2022, more than at any point since tallying began in 1974— standard passport processing times inched back up in early 2023.
Here’s what you need to know to get a passport in your hands as quickly as possible.
How long does it take to get an expedited passport?
During the pandemic, even expedited services experienced a massive slowdown. Thankfully, both regular and rushed passport processing times started to come down toward the end of 2021. But in early 2023, regular passport processing times crept back up due to a massive influx in applications—the standard processing period is 8 to 11 weeks, according to a March 2023 update from the State Department, up from the 6 to 9 weeks for a routine passport application in January 2023.
If you apply for an expedited passport directly though the U.S. State Department, processing times are about 5 to 7 weeks, according to a March 7 update—but that doesn’t include mail delivery times, which according to the State Department can add “several weeks” to the total processing time.
“Processing times begin the day we receive your application at a passport agency or center, not the day you mail your application or apply. Mailing times may add several weeks on to the door-to-door time it takes to receive your passport,” the State Department reports.
Nevertheless, the 5- to 7-week time frame is down from the 12 to 18 weeks the agency had estimated for expedited passport service during the pandemic. For a faster turnaround, an expeditor like RushMyPassport.com offers services that are as speedy as one or two weeks, but it’ll cost: The fastest one-week service is about $800. At press time, RushMyPassport.com offered expedited passport services ranging from 1 to 10 weeks from the time documents are received by the agency.
If you need it within 7 weeks, you can still do it yourself
If you have a life-or-death emergency or urgent international travel coming up within 14 days, you can make an in-person appointment at one of the 26 passport agencies throughout the United States. You must have an appointment to visit an agency, and the only way to make an appointment is by calling 1-877-487-2778.
You can also apply via mail. The window for expediting is 5 to 7 weeks, but as mentioned above that doesn’t include mail delivery times, which can vary widely across the country.
How to apply for an expedited passport
To apply for a rushed passport, begin at the State Department’s website, where a handy checklist will keep you from making a mistake that could slow down the process. The $60 expediting fee (plus overnight shipping) is not refundable, so make sure you have dotted all your i’s and crossed all your t’s when applying. This fee is in addition to the standard $130 application fee—so $190 total for the expedited passport service (not including shipping). First-time applicants are charged an additional $35 execution fee.
If you want the expedited service, you need to send your application using Priority Mail Express with the U.S. Postal Service. The State Department recommends that applicants send their application via trackable mail so that applicants can know exactly when it arrives and enters the system. Travelers can also opt for one- to two-day return delivery of their passport for an extra $19.53, to help speed things along somewhat.
If you score an appointment to apply in person, you must use form DS-11. To apply by mail, you’ll need to use the form DS-82 (you can download these forms here). Submitted forms must be single-sided and printed clearly. Complete the application online before printing it out or by hand in black or blue ink; remember to write “expedited” on the envelope and include two recent photos that meet the passport photo specifications. If applying by mail, you must include a check; if applying in person, find out what methods of payment are allowed at your specific acceptance facility.
You can renew your passport by mail and can begin the process online as long as you are in possession of your expired or expiring passport; your passport was issued when you were age 16 or older; it was issued within the past 15 years; and it was issued to your current name or you have documentation to support a name change. Children under 16, all first-time applicants, and applicants who have lost their passport or had it stolen must apply in person.
You can make a free appointment ahead of time but spaces are limited—passport agencies and acceptance facilities are not accepting walk-in services and require advance appointments. Acceptance facilities include post offices, clerks of court, libraries, and local government offices. If you want to apply at a post office, you need to make an appointment at USPS.com. Other acceptance facilities may be requiring advance appointments as well.
Passport agency appointments must be scheduled over the phone by calling 1-877-487-2778 or 1-888-874-7793 TDD/TTY between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. The online appointment system was disabled after an underground market developed; third parties using bots would secure urgent appointments and then sell them to travelers in a bind. Many of these were not even legitimate appointments.
How an expeditor can (and can’t) help
Expediting agencies are companies that assist with rushed passport applications. They charge an additional fee (on top of the standard passport application fee and expedited passport service fee) but can often help navigate the ins and outs of the expediting process.
Services like RushMyPassport.com double-check your application before it gets submitted and catch any errors or snags that might slow it down. The fastest turnaround time RushMyPassport.com offers is one week for $799 or a two-week option for $599. Even these can be limited in availability since expeditors also rely on a subset of appointments being available.
David Alwadish, CEO and founder of ItsEasy Passport & Visa, notes that the expediting slots get snatched up quickly. ItsEasy Passport & Visa currently charges $45 for its four-week passport processing service and $895 for one-day service. “One- to three-day passport service requires urgent travel. Please contact us for details,” the agency advises. Do-it-yourselfers can also use his company’s ItsEasy Passport App to submit applications for standard passport processing.
If you need it within 24 to 72 hours, try going to an agency in person
If it’s a life-or-death emergency, such as an illness, injury, or a death in your immediate family, getting an emergency appointment at an agency in person is the only option. Instead of wasting a day with overnight shipping, you can save valuable time by going in-person—even if you have to fly to a passport agency in the departure city of your international flight. In these circumstances, it can take anywhere between 24 and 72 hours depending on where you apply and if you can provide accepted documentation, such as a death certificate or signed documentation from medical personnel.
One final tip . . .
The best thing you can do to avoid paying extra for expediting your passport is to set a calendar reminder for nine months before the expiration date of your current valid passport, for those who have one. At that point, you can look ahead at your travels and figure out the best 18-week period to apply—one where, ideally, you know you won’t be heading abroad. If you travel frequently enough that such a period is hard to identify, you may want to look into the option of applying for a second passport.
This article was originally published in 2019. It was updated on March 7, 2023, to include current information.