Just because you’re ready to travel doesn’t mean you’re ready. First, you better learn, how long does it take to get a passport? Keep reading to find out.

Whether you’re an experienced traveler looking to renew your full passport or will soon be traveling abroad for the first time, you’re probably wondering how long does it take to get a passport.

Sure, you’ve heard different numbers. Some say just a couple weeks, some say it can take a few months. 

It’s especially important to get an answer to this question if your trip is fast approaching and you’ve still not checked to get a passport off your list.

Or perhaps you’ve filled up your passport while traveling abroad. In this case, you’ll want to know how much time you might have to stay back home to renew your passport until leaving the country again.

Let’s take a look at some of the different factors that can affect the time it takes to get your passport so you can either make adjustments or just relax regarding your travel plans.

Getting a New Passport

If you’re looking to get a new passport, you’ll first want to make sure you meet the eligibility requirements for this. These include if:

  • You’ll be applying for a passport for the first time
  • Your previous passport is a youth passport (issued when you were under 16 years old)
  • Your previous passport was damaged, lost, or stolen
  • Your name has changed since the issuance of your previous passport
  • It has been over 15 years since you received your previous U.S. passport

If any of these points apply you, then the next step is to complete the application process. You can start this by gathering the required documents.

These documents will include:

  • A filled out DS-11 application form
  • A 2×2-inch photo that is in compliance with the government’s passport photo regulations
  • Proof of citizenship
  • Proof of identity (with copies of the front and back of this document)
  • Passport fees (for a new, non-expedited passport this includes a $110.00 application fee and a $35.00 execution fee)

Once you have all of this information together, you’ll want to find your nearest passport office where you can get your application accepted. Usually, this will be a nearby USPS office. Here an authorized passport acceptance agent will verify your application by making sure you have the necessary documents and then witnessing as you sign the DS-11 form.

From there you can submit the application for processing. Routine processing for your application will usually take 4-8 weeks.

Getting a Passport Renewal

How long does it take to get a passport renewed?

If you’re looking to do this, the eligibility requirements will be somewhat different than if you were just applying for a new passport. You’ll want to make sure:

  • You don’t have a passport that has been limited due to something such as owing taxes
  • Your current passport isn’t older than 15 years
  • Your previous passport was issued when you were 16 years of age or older
  • Your most recent passport is not damaged beyond normal wear and tear
  • Your legal name still matches the name on your most recent passport

If you are in full compliance with these requirements you can proceed to the application phase. The required documents and information for passport renewal are also somewhat different than when applying for a new passport. For this you’ll need to send in:

  • A completed DS-82 application form
  • Your most recent passport
  • A passport photo meeting the same regulations for a new passport application
  • Passport fee (also $110.00 when renewing a passport book)

Once you’ve gathered all of this information you can simply send in the application by mail.

The processing facility you send it to is determined by where in the United States you live and the type of processing you need. You can find the one you need to send your application to on the DS-82 form. No matter where you have to send it, these facilities will only accept applications sent using the USPS or Canada Post.

Once you send your passport renewal application in for standard processing, this will also usually take 4-8 weeks.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Passport When I Have it Expedited?

Perhaps you have a family emergency that requires you to travel abroad. It could be that an important business meeting is only a few weeks away and you realize your passport is full or almost expired. Or, maybe, you’ve just been procrastinating.

What if you need to get your new passport in a pinch? 

Whether you are getting a passport for the first time or simply getting a renewal, there are several different options for getting a passport in far less than the standard 4-8 week time frame.

Which option you go with will be determined by your unique set of circumstances and just how quickly you need a new passport. 

Expedite Through Passport Acceptance Facility

You can get your passport expedited at your nearby Post Office or other passport acceptance facility when you send in your DS-11 application with the necessary documents. Ask to have it expedited and make sure to include the addition $60.00 expedition fee. 

Using this method usually takes 2-3 weeks (the same fee and time frame apply when using this method to expedite a renewal application as well.

Expedite Using a Regional Passport Agency

Regional passport agencies are offices that exist in most major cities across the U.S. and are dedicated to the processing of passport applications.

To get your passport application processed by one of these agencies, you will need to book an appointment with your nearest facility. Once you arrive, make sure to bring proof of international travel within two or three weeks as well as a $60.00 expedite fee.

This method is usually extremely efficient, with an expedited passport time ranging from same day services to 8 business days.

Use a Third-Party Registered Passport Courier Company

Another great option for getting your passport in a hurry is using a third-party courier company. 

These companies cut out the hassle of having to book an appointment through a regional passport agency. 

Once you send them your application information they can submit the necessary forms in your behalf, get the application processed through a regional passport agency, and have your new passport quickly delivered to you.

These companies usually can get your application processed and delivered in as little as 24-48 hours. Since these are private companies, the costs vary. Still, in addition to the standard application and expedite fees, using one of these companies to process your application usually starts around $100.00.

Start Filling Up That New Passport

So how long does it take to get a passport? Depending on your needs, you can get it in as little as a day. If you don’t mind waiting, it may take up to a couple of months.

Whether you need your passport within just a couple weeks or not for another couple months, one thing is sure–once you do get it, you’re going to want to get that baby filled up with memories.

Don’t have a trip planned yet? Do you have a flight booked but aren’t sure quite what to do once you land?

For tips on where to go and what to do on your next trip, check out our travel tips for help in getting the most out of each stamp in your new passport.