Checking Your Passport Status

A US passport
Get more information on your current Passport Status

As a private courier, one of the questions we get asked the most over the phone is “can I check my passport status?” While in most cases, these callers aren’t clients of ours, we freely offer advice about how to get more information regarding their passports and pending passport applications. As mentioned though, we aren’t the avenue that most people process their applications through. So where can someone go check on their passport status without having to hassle through a phone call?

Today, we’ll be going through the steps you’ll need to take to determine the status of your passport. Additionally, we’ll be going over some lesser known facts about seeking more information on your application, and what avenues can and cannot yield you useful information.

Check the Passport Status of a Pending Application

If you’d like to get more information regarding a pending passport application, there’s one place to go. Travel.State.Gov offers an online passport status check system. All you have to do is enter the name listed on the application, along with your social security number, and date of birth. The downside is that this status check doesn’t give you much pertinent information. At most it’ll let you know if the passport has been received, is processing, or if the application has been suspended.

This can leave a lot of people frustrated. If you need more up to date information, you could consider calling the US Department of State directly. The US Department of State is the federal department that handles all passport applications. If you contact them directly at 877-487-2778, you might be able to talk to an agent who can give you more information. 

An Important Note Regarding Passport Processing Centers:

We often receive calls from disgruntled passport applicants who have applied through traditional means to get their passport processed. Whether they applied through a post office or courthouse, they are pining for more info regarding their pending application. Oftentimes this leads to them contacting the place they applied for their passport in, however more often than not, these acceptance facilities have no more information than they do regarding the application. 

Passport application centers are not the places where your application is processed. Unless you are applying directly through the US Department of State in one of their few locations, the place you applied for your passport in is just an office that has the authority to submit your application. They do not have any more insight into your pending application then you would have by going to If you need more assistance your only choice is to contact the US Department of State directly, and if at that point you still need more information, you’ve already exhausted all avenues.

Checking the Validity of Your Passport

For those simply interested in checking the status of an existing passport, the process is rather simple. If you’d like to know if a passport is still valid, simply check the information page on your passport booklet or card. There should be an issue date, sometimes abbreviated as ISS, and an expiration date, sometimes abbreviated as EXP. If the date exceeds your passport’s expiration date, your passport will expire. It should also be mentioned that in most cases, you cannot travel to another country if your passport is within 3 months of expiring, so if that’s the case, get your passport renewed right away!

If you’ve lost your passport, you’ll have to get a new one. But if you’re curious as to whether that lost or stolen passport is still valid, you can figure it out by remembering the year you applied for the passport in question. A passport obtained by someone 16 or older is valid for 10 years, while passports obtained by minors younger than 16 are valid for 5 years. So once you recall the year the passport was issued, figure out how old you were at the time of application, and just add 5 or 10 years accordingly. 

If you’ve already reported your passport lost or stolen via the US Department of State, your passport has been cancelled, and you cannot travel on it. Attempting to do so may even get you detained for questioning, especially if you reported the passport as stolen. This means that you should only report your passport as lost or stolen if you are sure that the passport isn’t somewhere you can find it!

If Your Passport Is No Longer Valid, Consider Applying!

If your passport has expired, you should consider applying for a passport renewal. Not having a passport might not seem like a big deal, but if you get sprung on by surprise trip it can take between 12-18 weeks to receive your passport. Don’t get stuck waiting months for your passport in the mail, apply if or when your passport expires to save yourself a potential headache. 

If you just realized that your passport is expired, and you do have a trip planned, don’t worry! There are options to get your passport back in less than 12 weeks. For example, if you can get an appointment with the US Department of State, you might be able to get your passport back the same day. Unfortunately, due to the influx of applications, the US Department of State is very backed up right now. The only way to get an appointment is to call their number, 877-487-2778, and the average wait time once on hold is about 2 hours. 

Don’t want to wait 2 hours to maybe get an appointment? No problem, The Passport Office has got you covered. Our services have been available since 1995, and since then we’ve been offering expedited passport services to worried travelers. Even with the pandemic raging on, we can provide passport turnaround within 3-5 business days. The best part? You don’t need an appointment, just walk-in to one of our several locations to get started. You can also place an order online and ship your documents directly to us. The Passport Office makes your passport process easy.

What is a Vaccine Passport?

mRNA vaccine vial
A mRNA vaccine vial

With the pandemic raging on for over a year now, new laws have been introduced to ensure the safety of travelers. One of the most prevalent requirements for travel being talked about right now are vaccine passports. But just what is a vaccine passport?

Even before the term became popular, proof of immunization was required to enter certain countries. For example, traveling to some African countries might require proof of vaccination for yellow fever. This is to ensure that the traveler is safe from deadly disease, but also so that those who might catch a disease but remain asymptomatic don’t transmit the disease upon return. This is the purpose of obtaining a vaccine passport.

A vaccine passport isn’t like a standard passport in the traditional sense. With a standard passport application, documentation must be submitted in order to establish identity and proof of citizenship. Unlike this, a vaccine passport is just proof of having been vaccinated. This does mean that for the covid-19 vaccine, you’ll need at least two weeks to become immunized due to the booster shot scheduling, so plan accordingly.

Those who have already been inoculated against Covid-19 are probably already familiar with the CDC immunization card issues at the time of your vaccination. This is essentially your vaccine passport. That small card works as proof to show that you’ve been immunized against the virus. This card is also available digitally through the CDC’s internal database. You can find more information on your immunization record here

There are still concerns surrounding the usage of so called vaccine passports however. Due to the fact that vaccines are ubiquitously available in every country, some are criticizing the implementation of such a requirement. While the United States is offering free vaccinations to all of its citizens, other nations with more limited supplies are offering vaccinations only to its more vulnerable populations. Since more vulnerable populations are less likely to travel, this can result in a complete stagnation of mobility by mass transit. The knock on effect of such could harm airlines and cruise providers.

The WHO has even mentioned that requiring proof of vaccination might cause less vulnerable individuals to seek vaccine priority over those more susceptible to the virus. This could have an adverse effect on the vulnerable population. This hasn’t stopped several countries from creating their own form of vaccination passport. Many European countries, as well as China, already have a form of recording keeping to ensure that those who are vaccinated may travel freely.

As time draws on, more and more airlines require proof of a vaccination via vaccine passports. Some airlines are even implementing their own systems to keep track of which fliers have already submitted their proof of inoculation. This can help speed up the process for frequent fliers and also ensure that the airlines don’t have to retread old ground. 

However, some individuals have begun to obtain fraudulent vaccination cards. These faux CDC vaccine cards are being sold on the street and online, and those who are avoiding a vaccine are attempting to use them to circumvent the vaccination requirements for some flights or cruises. This amounts to fraud, doing this can not only land you fines, or maybe even jail time, but it will certainly get you banned from whatever airline or cruise line you are attempting to use. If you cannot obtain a vaccine due to your medical history, you’ll need to get a notice from your healthcare provider. In any other cases, do not attempt to lie to the government or private companies about your vaccination status. Private companies have the legal right to require masks and proof of vaccination, and therefore have the right to refuse service to anyone who does not follow their internal guidelines.

In Need of an Actual Passport?

With passport wait times currently exceeding 18 weeks on the slow end, and barely hitting 12 weeks on the fast side of things, you might have more to worry about than just getting vaccinated. For first time applicants, the passport application process can be stressful. Navigating the complexities of the application process combined with the long wait times and need to get an appointment can be taxing. That’s where we come in.

The Passport Office is an authorized provider of expedited passports. Our offices can provide a 3-5 day turnaround on a new application. What’s better is that no appointment is required. Walk-in to one of our offices and we can get your entire application sorted. That means we’ll take care of any paperwork, photos, and shipping. All you need to do is show up. So don’t get lost in the malaise of shipping documents and waiting to hear back, apply through The Passport Office today. Start your order online, and 

4 Tips for Your Pandemic Passport Application

Apply for a passport with knowledge on hand

It’s never too early to apply for a passport. With pandemic restrictions being lifted, many Americans who would have applied for a passport last year are now finding it difficult to obtain a passport. The US Department of State has found themselves overloaded with applications, unable to process the overabundance of eager applicants with their limited staff. The last thing you want is for your passport to get delayed and to cause you to miss a trip! So what can you do to make sure your application returns without a hitch?

There’s a lot you can do to ensure your passport application is processed as rapidly and securely as possible. Oftentimes, not being diligent enough can lead to your application being suspended, and essentially double the amount of time you have to wait to get your passport! In this quick read, you’ll find out about some of the most pressing passport 

1.Make Sure You Have the Right Application

DS-11 Application
A DS-11 Passport Application

One of the most common mistakes when applying for a passport is using the wrong applications. Many applicants, new or old, aren’t sure what the process for a passport renewal is compared to a new passport. Because of this, those who should use the new passport application use the DS-82 (Passport renewal application) and those applying for a passport renewal often apply using a DS-11 (New passport application).

Essentially, anyone who has a 10 year passport that has been expired for less than 5 years may apply for a passport renewal and use a DS-82 form. That means that everyone else will be using a DS-11 form. This includes children applying for passports who already have passports, child passports cannot be renewed! The process for children, as well as those who have lost their passport and cannot present it, is done as if they don’t currently have a passport.

2. Get Good Passport Photos

A lot of those applying for a first time passport may not know what a passport photo looks like, or where to get one. Luckily, there are many places to get a passport photo these days. CVS, Walgreens, as well as many post offices or courthouses you can apply for a passport in, all offer passport photos. In most cases, the person taking your photo will be aware of the requirements to ensure your passport photo is accepted. However, you should also be aware of some of the more niche requirements.

For one, no uniforms at all are allowed in your passport photo. This includes camouflage patterns of any kind– even on toddlers and children! Religious headdress may only be worn if your application is submitted with a letter explaining its purpose, this is because covering your head at all is prohibited. Finally, shoulders should be covered by your shirt, so no tube tops or spaghetti straps. Remembering these tips could save you a trip back home to swap outfits, so keep them in mind! Also check out this short clip to recap some of these tips:

Passport Photo Tips

3. Know What Might Disqualify You

Most people should be able to apply for a passport without worrying about being disqualified before they apply. However in some cases, there might be circumstances that prevent applicants from receiving a passport! For example, those who have outstanding child support payments  may not qualify for a passport. This however is determined by their state of residence. Some states have a set amount of unpaid child support that must be met before an applicant is disqualified. Other states disqualify applicants that have any child support payments pending at all. If an application is submitted while the child support goes unpaid, the applicant’s application will be held until the issue is resolved.

Naturally, getting your application held like this can be devastating if you already have travel plans. Another potential disqualification might be a felony conviction. Being deemed as dangerous might prevent you from obtaining a passport to leave the country. This again depends on the specific felony. Drug trafficking, for example, will lead to immediate disqualification. Also, much like being late on child support, not paying your taxes can also get you denied a passport. The IRS has the authority to contact the US Department of State to halt your ability to obtain a passport if you have large sums of taxes unpaid. 

4 . Be Aware of Wait Times

During less tumultuous times, the process of applying for a process and receiving it back would take no more than a month. This is of course assuming that all procedures were followed. In today’s world however, things are taking a bit longer. If you are applying out of a post office and getting standard service expect to wait up to 18 weeks for your application to be processed and completed. This can go down to 12 weeks assuming you are getting expediting service, but given things can take longer if there’s a sudden rush of applicants. 

That being said, you should currently be planning a trip around getting your passport back on time if you are applying out of a post office. The passport will get back to you, just don’t expect to get it back on time. If you’ve been surprised by a trip, or suddenly need to travel due to extenuating circumstances, there are still options for you yet.

Getting a Rush Passport

For those leaving within two weeks, there are options to receive an expedited passport before your date of travel. If you can somehow get an appointment, the US Department of State offers rush service at its open locations. While speedy, there’s no guarantee you’ll get an appointment, and there are very few locations around the nation. For example, those who live in Orlando/Jacksonville will have to decide whether to drive to Atlanta or Miami to get an appointment. Not only that, but their phone lines are clogged, and they recently removed the ability to book an appointment online. You can contact them at 877-487-2778, try calling them in the morning east coast time for the best results.

Not looking to struggle  with getting an online appointment? The Passport Office is one of many private passport expediting agencies that can process your application without a long wait or fuss. We even have an office in Orlando, so you can get your new Orlando passport processed quickly without the long drive. We can provide 3-5 day turnaround time on your passport application when you apply today! So if you’ve got travel plans within 14 days, there’s no better place to apply than The Passport Office.

Great Vacation Spots for Pandemic Travel

Nothing hits better than a vacation in the peak of summer. But for those who have been paying attention to the news, the pandemic has been heavily restricting travel. So where can you actually travel during these trying times? Today, we’ll be starting our weekly series detailing some choice vacation locals for you to blow off steam. 

As things change fast due to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the information provided below is subject to change at a moment’s notice. Be sure to check the country’s embassy before booking tickets or planning a trip. Links to resources are provided under each country’s entry.

The Bahamas

A classic summer destination, you probably know about the Bahamas because of its beautiful beaches and weather. Or perhaps you are a fan of swimming with pigs down in Exuma, one of the Bahamas many islands. No matter what brings you to the Bahamas, there will always be something exciting to do. The destination is also constantly circulating cruise ships, which are now touring again. This would be a great locale to visit on your first post-lockdown cruise!

Visitors 11 and older must have a negative Covid-19 PCR test result no more than five days old before arrival. Once you have the negative result, you can apply for a Bahamas travel health visa (link below). Fully vaccinated travelers must upload proof of vaccination and are exempt from testing starting May 1. All travelers must opt-in to Covid-19 health insurance; the cost is included in the health visa fee. 

More info: US Embassy | Bahamas’ travel website.


Belize is a beautiful, yet relatively unknown, country in central america. Despites not being as well known as other central american rivals such as Costa Rica or Panama, Belize has similar sights and amenities. 

Make sure to download the Belize Health App and input your travel information no more than 72 hours before arriving in Belize. You must also bring your official CDC vaccination card to prove inculcation no more than two weeks before arrival. Otherwise, have a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within 96 hours of arrival or a rapid test within 48 hours of arrival. Or you can be tested upon arrival at a cost of $50. All travelers must have proof they’ve booked a room in a gold standard hotel. 

More info: US Embassy | Belize Tourism Board.


This small country in the Atlantic is typically swarming with tourists. Luckily, in large part due to the pandemic lockdowns, Iceland is more spacious than ever! While going north for the summer might sound weird, Iceland is jam packed with sights to see and activities for solo travelers as well as couples and families. Most notably, the hot springs that dot Iceland are a popular destination for travelers. Thanks to the island geothermal activity there are many to visit, so book a reservation now before they all fill up!

Starting April 6, US travelers who have proof of being fully vaccinated or those with proof of contracting Covid-19 but are now recovered may enter Iceland. This exempts US visitors from testing and quarantine requirements. 

More info: US Embassy.

South Korea

With its recent cultural export of k-pop blasting through the earbuds of every teen in America, it’s unlikely that you are unaware of South Korea. This technologically advanced country is a great place to visit if you haven’t dipped your toes in travel across the pacific. Boasting modernized public transportation, and beautiful natural landscapes, South Korea is really something to behold. Not only that, but their barbeque is nothing to scoff at either.

US visitors to South Korea must provide a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours of departure. US travelers must also quarantine for 14 days upon arrival even with a negative test or full vaccination. You must also submit to health screenings and download a self-diagnosis app with daily reports. 

More info: US Embassy.


Greece is often thought of as the birthplace of democracy. This mediterranean nation has been culturally emulated even here in the USA. Greece has recently reopened its borders, meaning you can enjoy visiting its many historical and ancient sites. You can also partake in the high quality mediterranean cuisine! Greece is also known for its islands which have gorgeous beaches, definitely worth visiting this summer!

Greece is now open to US travelers who are either fully vaccinated or those with a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test that’s no more than 72 hours old upon arrival. You must fill out an online passenger locator form. Would-be tourists should be aware Greece is still under a lockdown and curfew. 

More info: US Embassy.

Dominican Republic

An iconic vacation spot that isn’t too far off the shores of Florida. The spanish half of the island of Hispaniola boasts scenic beaches and great cuisine, as well as a great party scene. For those who want to go off the beaten path and perhaps try somewhere other than the US’s own Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic makes a great first choice for your adventures outside of the USA.

UPDATE: All arriving and departing passengers must fill out an electronic entry and exit form; it can only be in digital form. Covid-19 tests aren’t required, but Dominican Republic authorities will give breath tests to a small percentage of random passengers plus anyone showing symptoms.

The Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism now offers free viral antigen testing to all international visitors staying in hotels. The US Embassy says PCR test results have been reliably available within 72 hours but could be affected by increased demand. 

More info: US Embassy |

Expedited Passport Services

You’ll need a passport to visit any of these beautiful countries, but getting one right now can be a challenge. The current wait time for a passport processed through normal means is 12-18 weeks. That might mean postponing your late summer vacation until winter! So much for blowing off steam.

Luckily, there are other options for obtaining a passport in a shorter period of time. If you’ve got proof of travel within 14 days, you can apply through the US Department of State, if you can get an appointment you can expect your passport back the same day! Unfortunately, like with many things during the pandemic, the wait times are prohibitively long, and their hours might cut into your work week.

We provide expedited passport renewal services as well! When you work with us, you get The Passport Office guarantee. We can process a passport application in as little as one week, and we have availability throughout the week so you’ll be sure to get an appointment. If you can’t come in person, you can also apply online and send in your application. So what are you waiting for? Book your vacation today, and get started with your passport application process!

Potential Vacation Spots for Pandemic Travel

Nothing hits better than a vacation in the peak of summer. But for those who have been paying attention to the news, the pandemic has been heavily restricting travel. So where can you actually travel during these trying times? Today, we’ll be starting our weekly series detailing some choice vacation locals for you to blow off steam. 

As things change fast due to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the information provided below is subject to change at a moment’s notice. Be sure to check the country’s embassy before booking tickets or planning a trip. Links to resources are provided under each country’s entry.

Turks and Caicos

Clear blue water and white sand beaches of Turks & Caicos
The beautiful white sand beaches of Turks & Caicos

A beautiful island located in the carribean, Turks and Caicos has relatively low levels of Covid-19 cases due to its isolation from the rest of the world. If you’re looking for a tropical paradise to kick your feet up and relax in, definitely consider the beaches of this twin island nation.

Those visiting must fill out a travel authorization form and provide a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within five days of arrival. Children 9 and younger are exempt. Travelers must complete an online health questionnaire and carry travel medical insurance to cover any Covid-19-related costs. 

More info: US Embassy | Visit Turks and Caicos


Home of everyone’s favorite peanut based noodle dish, Thailand is one of the few remaining true Monarchies in the world, and it’s doors have opened once again for visitors. Known for its beaches, as well as its vibrant nightlife and cuisine, Thailand was a hot tourist destination before shutting down due to pandemic concerns.

US passport holders can again visit this popular Asian destination. You must have a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test no more than 72 hours old upon arrival. There’s a mandatory quarantine of 10 days, plus additional testing requirements during your stay. The mandatory quarantine period has been shortened to seven days for travelers who have been fully vaccinated. 

More info: US Embassy | Royal Thai Embassy.


The southern neighbor to peaceful Costa Rica, and location of one of the busiest and most well known canals in the world, Panama is a gorgeous equatorial country that boasts a plethora of tourist attractions. Like Costa Rica to the north, Panama is known for its beaches and lush rainforests. Those who enjoy basking in the sun can enjoy its sunny beaches, and the more adventurous can venture out on rainforest expeditions. Being centrally located, it’s also a nexus for a variety of latin cuisine!

A Covid-19 PCR or antigen test with a negative result, taken 48 hours or less before arrival time, is required to visit Panama. If the test results are older than 48 hours, you must take a rapid Covid-19 test at the airport. You must also fill out an online health affidavit. Cruise ship passengers can’t disembark here. 

More info: US Embassy | Visit Panama.


The mountainous region between the Indian and Chinese border is home to the Himalayan mountain range. This mountainous region is also home to Nepal, which sports the most used base camp to begin a climb on Mount Everest. While you might not want to pull a muscle on your vacation, you can still take in the sights that Nepal has to offer. Known for its natural beauty, as well as its rich cultural history, Nepal has a lot to offer to first time visitors, and it’s quite inexpensive once you land as well!

US travelers can visit the landlocked Himalayan nation. A negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before departure or proof of full Covid-19 vaccination to enter. You’ll be tested again upon arrival and must quarantine until you get the results. Also, you’ll need proof you’ve booked accommodations and proof of travel insurance that covers rescues and treatment. Hikers and mountain climbers have special requirements, including insurance. 

More info: US Embassy.


Possibly our most well known neighbor (sorry Canada), Mexican culture already pervades American culture, what with its exports of music and food. However, you really can’t compete with the real thing. Our version of Mexican food is heavily Americanized, so going in person is really the only way to get the genuine article. Mexico is a massive country, boasting activities on both coasts, as well as in the mountainous Mexico City. 

The land border between the US and Mexico remains closed through at least May 21, but US travelers can still fly there. No testing requirements are in place to enter, but the State Department lists numerous states to avoid because of crime. You can expect temperature checks and other screenings upon arrival. 

More info: US Embassy.


Popeye Village in Malta
The set of the Robin William’s film Popeye! It still exists as a tourist attraction in Malta, pay it a visit during your trip

A beautiful island paradise located in the warm waters of the mediterranean sea, Malta is a popular tourist destination that has opened its doors to US citizens. Known for its historic buildings, cuisine, crystal clear water, and beaches. You’re sure to find something to keep yourself preoccupied while visiting this small island.

US travelers with a long vacation and who wish to sidestep the EU travel ban can visit. Passengers who transit via a “safe corridor country” that allows US visitors may enter Malta after they’ve been in that country for 14 days. For example, US travelers can stay 14 days in Turkey or Ireland and then be eligible to enter Malta. All passengers must fill out Public Health Travel Declaration and the Passenger Locator forms before departure. 

More info: US Embassy.

Expedited Passport Services

You’ll need a passport to visit any of these beautiful countries, but getting one right now can be a challenge. The current wait time for a passport processed through normal means is 12-18 weeks. That might mean postponing your late summer vacation until winter! So much for blowing off steam.

Luckily, there are other options for obtaining a passport in a shorter period of time. If you’ve got proof of travel within 14 days, you can apply through the US Department of State, if you can get an appointment you can expect your passport back the same day! Unfortunately, like with many things during the pandemic, the wait times are prohibitively long, and their hours might cut into your work week.

We provide expedited passport renewal services as well! When you work with us, you get The Passport Office guarantee. We can process a passport application in as little as one week, and we have availability throughout the week so you’ll be sure to get an appointment. If you can’t come in person, you can also apply online and send in your application. So what are you waiting for? Book your vacation today, and get started with your passport application process!

Getting a Passport Renewed During the Pandemic

The pandemic has been raging on for over a year now, and since lockdowns have been instituted, there have been a lot of questions regarding the processing of passports. In March of 2020, passport processing was slowed down to a snail’s pace. In fact, applications weren’t being processed at all as postal workers, US Department of State employees, and government offices shut down in accordance with the quarantine.

However, now that we’re more than a year deep into the pandemic and that vaccination has become available to all US citizens, you might be wondering how to go about applying for and obtaining a passport. Currently, the process is still much slower than it ever was in pre-pandemic times, but obtaining a passport is still possible. We’ll be going over what it takes to obtain a passport, what your options are, and how long current passport turnover times are.

Renewal VS New Passport

Before we go further, let’s outline the distinction between a passport renewal and a new passport. Passport renewals can be performed on any 10 year passport that has been expired for less than 5 years. Please keep in mind that this means child passports, as well as lost passports, cannot be renewed. A common mistake that is often made by parents is assuming that child passports can be processed as renewals, this can lead to their application taking longer as the form required for new passports and passport renewals is different. 

In order to process a renewal, you must fill out a DS-82 form, provide a check for government fees, and provide a new photo. New passport applicants must provide a DS-11 application, as well as a photocopy of their ID, and a physical copy of their birth certificate or passport, in addition to a check for government fees. New passport applicants must appear in person at an acceptance facility, these locations verify the identity of first time applicants, or for previous applicants who do not qualify for a passport renewal. Those applying for a passport renewal can submit their application on their own, the DS-82 application continues a shipping address that applicants can mail their completed application to.

Applying for Out of Country Residents

If you are a resident of the United States but are currently living abroad, you may not have to worry too much about renewing your passport. The US Department of State has stated that they will be honoring all expired passports until at least the end of 2021. This is to reduce the amount of incoming applications, as well as to give Americans the opportunity to come back home without have to wait long periods of time due to passport processing times. 

That being said, if you don’t have a passport at all and are living abroad, you’ll definitely need to get a new one if you intend to re-enter the country. Your best bet would be to visit the nearest US embassy or consulate. These facilities often contain small passport issuing operations that should be able to issue you a temporary passport. This passport is valid for 2 years, and it’s recommend that you apply for a new passport as soon as you return home in order to get the passport’s life extended from 2 to 10 years.

Current Passport Turnover Times

With summer comes the urge to travel, and since passport services opened up for processing earlier this year, the Department of State offices that process applications have been overwhelmed. Eager travelers have been applying for passport renewals and new passports, which has caused a massive back up in the US Department of State’s system. As the agency is currently understaffed, this onslaught of applications has led to long processing times. 

Turnover times jumped from 6-10 weeks near the beginning of processing to 12-18 weeks now. This means that if you plan to travel soon, going the traditional route will leave little leeway in terms of receiving your passport back in a speedy fashion. This means that if you intend to apply through a post office (for new passports) or on your own (for passport renewals) you shouldn’t plan a trip within the next 4 months. Not only that, but processing times can increase depending on how many more applicants apply.

Applying for an Emergency Passport Renewal

Perhaps you already have plans booked and 12-18 weeks just won’t cut it. Thankfully, there are avenues to obtain a passport in a faster time frame. However, because of limited availability, the requirements on this process are much more strict. Primarily, you’ll need to be able to show proof of travel within 14 days to even get an appointment. That means if a surprise opportunity to book a vacation has sprung up, you’ll need to book plane tickets (hotel bookings don’t count as proof of travel). This restriction can be a turn off for those who haven’t already booked travel, since even if you do book a ticket, there’s no guarantee that you can even get an appointment.

But where would you even go to get a passport within 14 days? The US Department of State has several offices around the country that can provide this service. Again, due to high demand, obtaining an appointment is very difficult at the moment. You may even end up having to go in the day before your scheduled day of travel to get your passport. On the bright side, if you do get an appointment, you’ll most likely get your passport back the same day that you arrive. This is great for those in a pinch, but not the easiest thing to manage when trying to schedule around work and the Department of State office’s availability.

Other Emergency Renewal Options

If the idea of trying to wrangle an appointment at the Department of State doesn’t sound appealing, there are more options yet. The US Department of State recently reopened its passport courier partnership. This means that private courier companies, much like our location in Miami, are now processing expedited passport renewals. Unlike the Department of State, you won’t get your passport back the same day, but you will be able to walk-in for service and get your passport back in about 3-4 days. The requirements are exactly the same as if you were going directly to the State Department, however you will need to pay an additional expediting fee depending on how quickly you want your passport processed.

So, if you need a passport renewal within 14 days, visit our office in Miami. Our service can rush your passport application so you can be sure to have your passport back in your hands by the time of your departure. You can either schedule an appointment, or walk-in for service!

Traveling During the Pandemic, What You Need to Know

As the pandemic continues, everyone is wondering what to do and where they can go for their summer travel plans. Many airlines such as Delta have already begun to remove restrictions on seating as things begin to ease down with the introduction of vaccines. But all this aside, travel is still restricted outside of the USA as well as back to the USA. On top of that, what if you need a passport renewal before your next trip?

We’ll be going over the most recent updates on traveling during the pandemic. By the end of this article, you’ll have a full understanding of what kind of roadblocks you should expect while planning a trip during the foreseeable future.

Entry Restrictions

Currently, US citizens re-entering the country must submit to a mandatory Covid-19 test to prove they aren’t contagious. This only applies to citizens entering the country from abroad, meaning if you are traveling domestically this won’t be an issue. You should however take this as a warning to heed precautionary measures even if you are traveling to a country with lax pandemic restrictions. Otherwise, you might find yourself stuck abroad for at least two weeks while you quarantine!

On top of re-entry restrictions, you may have to deal with restrictions based on where you’re planning to go. For example, travel to the Bahamas currently requires you to obtain a health visa which verifies that you aren’t at risk of spreading the virus during your stay. Additionally, some countries either have travel sanctions in place created by the US or by themselves. New Zealand isn’t allowing visits from US citizens at the moment, even with proof of a negative Covid test!

Safety Concerns

While not on the top of everyone’s minds, you might be concerned about health and safety risks of the country you intend to visit. Luckily, the US Department of State has provided a useful directory for finding information regarding the different health and safety risks associated with international travel. The directory can give you a glimpse into the relative risk of traveling to a country, with risk assessment being determined based on the country’s own handling of the virus, as well as vaccine availability and usage.

Getting a passport can take 12-18 weeks using standard procedures

Obtaining a Passport

Along with various supply chain disruptions that came with the pandemic, the government found itself short staffed. This has led to widespread delays when applying for a passport, whether it be new or a renewal. Currently, the normal turnaround time for a passport is 18 weeks. On the faster side of things, you can expedite your passport application and expect to get it back in between 10-12 weeks. If you’d like to go any faster than that, you’ll need to apply at a US Department of State office near you.

Unfortunately, there aren’t US Department of State offices located in every state. Even worse, most offices are dealing with long wait times for appointments, some are even booked out as far as two months!

So what does this mean? Well, if you plan on traveling within the next two months, your first bet would be to contact the US Department of State to see if you can get an appointment. If you can’t snag an appointment, you should apply for an expedited passport, either at a post office or a passport expediting agency.

Stuck abroad?

If you’re already abroad with an expired passport, and can’t make it to an embassy due to pandemic restrictions, you should still be fine. The US Department of State has said they would be honoring passports that are expired at least until the end of 2021. So if you need to make it back to USA on a recently expired passport, now would be the time!

What Should You Do?

With all this information, it would seem that traveling during the pandemic might be a non-starter. After all, 12-18 week processing times can be prohibitive when planning a vacation. On top of that, the threat of a new variant surge might bring any vacation to an early end with no sign of a refund. While traveling is daunting, it is still possible! Just keep in mind all of the road bumps that you might encounter on your trip along the way.

Looking for Faster Passport Renewal Speeds Without the Long Wait Times?

If you can’t wait 18 weeks for routine service, or 12 weeks for expedited service, but also can’t risk waiting until 13 days within your date of departure to try to nab an appointment at a processing center, what can you do? Luckily the US Department of State has begun reinstating the private passport courier service. This means that private vendors, such as our location in Orlando, are now offering expedited services in as soon as 7-10 business days. 

Even better is that private couriers don’t tend to have the long wait times associated with processing your application directly through the government. In total, the submission of a renewal application takes no longer than 30 minutes assuming you arrive on time for your appointment and with all the relevant documentation. We can handle the submission and shipping of your application, we just need to make sure that you have the right information ready!

While this service does come with an added fee, the money is well worth the peace of mind you’ll have in knowing your passport will be prepared by the time of your trip. If you’re looking for a passport renewal in Orlando, then visit The Passport Office today. We accept walk-ins, but you can also call us to schedule an appointment today.

US Passport Rules and Regulations for Seattle Travelers

US Passport Rules and Regulations for Seattle Travelers

The passport process in and of itself can be complex on account of all the documentation and regulations you have to accomodate for (you can find our passport application guidelines here). Even after you’ve placed an application and received your passport, however, there are some rules and regulations to keep in mind as you make travel plans. The last thing you want is a delay just as you attempt to board your plane, so we have a list of travel tips and regulations to help keep your travel plans running smoothly.

Passport Expiration

Standard passports last for up to ten years, while minors under sixteen years of age have passports that last for up to five years. That may sound like plenty of time to allow for all your travel plans, but if your passport is less than a year from expiring, you may want to consider renewing it before travelling internationally. This is because many countries around the world have limitations on how close your passport can be to expiration, with most not allowing visitors who have less than six months left until their passport expires. Below is a list of popular destinations that don’t allow travellers with less than six months before expiration on their passport (please note that this is not a comprehensive list):

  • Egypt
  • Ecuador
  • Congo
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • France
  • Germany
  • China (Hong Kong allows for a one-month validity)
  • Tonga

As a general rule, European countries don’t allow visitors who have less than six months left on their passport. Other locations like Mexico and Canada have a softer policy that cuts travellers off at three months of validity left.

Other countries make use of one-month validity passport policies, while still others may allow a visit as long as the traveller’s passport is still valid upon entry. To avoid travel delays on account of your passport expiring soon, be sure to look up the international location to see if your passport will still be accepted. Passport expiration policies are enforced by their respective countries rather than the US, so the best way to avoid complications is to renew your passport before booking international travel.

If you obtain a visa for a longer visit abroad, you’ll still want to be sure your passport will be valid for the duration of your stay. In the case that it isn’t, you will still be able to apply for a passport from a US consulate or embassy while abroad. For passport applications abroad, however, you won’t be able to access expedited services, so keep this in mind when planning for a long trip.

Valid ID for Domestic Travel

Although domestic flights typically don’t require passports, changes made in 2018 altered the standard acceptable security requirements of driver’s licences and state-issued ID. At the time, this policy affected the residents of nine states and required that they use alternate, federally acceptable ID to board airplanes.

The REAL ID Act is set to make changes in the future of domestic flights, too. By October of 2020, passengers will be required to show REAL ID compliant identification. Since many states have only recently adopted these secure standards (and since civilians are largely unaware that more secure options exist for new driver’s licenses and state-issued ID), many delays are predicted to occur. You can avoid the issue completely by taking a passport as a form of REAL ID compliant identification on domestic flights.

Passport Renewal

If you need to get your passport renewed quickly to avoid travel delays, you can expedite the process for a fee (the price of the service depends on how quickly you want the processing to be done). Make the process of renewal as smooth as possible by following these simple steps:

  • Use the official online form filler to complete and print Form DS-82
  • Take new passport photos or have them done at our office
  • Ensure you have proof of international travel, such as plane ticket information
  • Bring your old passport to the agency with your documents and photo

This process is the fastest and simplest you can use to get an expedited passport renewal. Premium, same-day service is also available if you visit the office before the cut-off time of 10am. If you have a little more time before you need a renewal, you can also renew your expedited passport by mail (this typically takes between two to three weeks).

Lost and Damaged Passports

Passports can inevitably be stolen, damaged or lost regardless of whether you’re home or abroad. You’ll need to make sure you have the proper documentation on hand when applying for a replacement passport, as different circumstances may require different forms.

If your passport is damaged…

This can happen on account of natural disasters, accidents, and a variety of other unfortunate circumstances. If your passport has taken on water damage, has tears, has a damaged RFID chip, or is otherwise unreadable, you’ll need to get a new passport to travel. To do this, find your nearest acceptance facility or passport agency (we also accept applications for stolen, lost, and damaged passports) and bring the following materials:

  • Your damaged passport and a signed statement explaining the damage
  • Form DS-11, preferably filled out online with the official government form filler
  • Proof of citizenship, including a photocopy of the documentation
  • Proof of identity, including a photocopy of the identification used
  • A passport photo
  • Payment for your new passport

If your passport was lost…

Regardless of whether your passport was lost or stolen, you’ll need to fill out additional documentation to report the event when you apply for a new passport. Much like a damaged passport, you should locate the nearest acceptance facility or passport agency and bring the following materials:

  • Form DS-64, which you can find on the official government form filler
  • Form DS-11, also accessible through the government form filler
  • Proof of citizenship, including a photocopy of the documentation
  • Proof of identity, including a photocopy of the identification used
  • A passport photo
  • Payment for your new passport

Get your expedited passport today

If you have further questions about passport regulations, you can reach our office at (206) 408-2001 or view our online rates and renewal applications. Our fast, professional services make passport renewals and applications easy so you can get where you need to go.

How Passports and Visas Interact – Everything Tampa Travelers Need to Know

Travel documentation can be confusing even for seasoned travellers. Each country you visit has different requirements for foreign visitors, such as entry and exit fees, passport validity when a passport expires within a few months, and whether or not you need a visa to accompany your passport. Both passports and visas have a lot in common when it comes to being able to enter another country, but there are a few key differences and functions you should be aware of before you visit your nearest passport agency.

All About Passports

US passports are a powerful form of identification that can get you access to 184 different countries without needing to apply for a visa. You’ll always need a passport for re-entry into the US, so it’s the most vital documentation to carry when travelling. 

In addition to being necessary for travel overseas, passports are also useful domestically as a form of reliable ID—especially as security standards change, which has already made some driver’s licenses and state-issued ID’s obsolete as identification for domestic flights. Applying for passports is a standard process regardless of which state you live in, so you can always make your passport application straightforward by preparing this documentation ahead of time:

Renewing a passport is an even easier process that requires only your old passport, a new passport photo, and form DS-82 in addition to processing fees. Both new passport applications and passport renewals can be expedited if you need to travel quickly, which will usually get your new passport completed within 2-3 weeks. In the case that you need a passport within days, however, a passport issuing agency like ours can service you even faster.

All About Visas

Visas work within passports as permission to perform a specific task within another country, whether that’s business, pleasure, or medically related. While you can travel many places with a passport alone, longer visits often require the approval of a visa. The most important step in applying for a visa is doing your research to find the appropriate embassy to apply to and following the instructions given. The government already has a great resource where you can search for the country you are travelling to in order to find visa requirements and other important information (such as required immunizations and current safety hazards).

Generally speaking, the process of applying for a visa remotely in another country can take anywhere from two weeks to two months. Because every country has different processes (sometimes you’ll be expected to come with a visa, while in other countries you can visit in person to apply for a visa when you arrive), we can’t stress enough that you need to plan accordingly and make time to have a visa processed.

If a travel emergency occurs and you need to get a visa quickly, you can visit visa agencies that will greatly expedite the process for a fee. In some cases, you can even get a visa processed and ready to go within 24 hours.

Countries that Require Visas as of 2019

According to the Henly & Partners Passport Index, there are 42 destinations that require a visa:

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Arabia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Benin 
  • Bhutan 
  • Burundi 
  • Cameroon 
  • Chad 
  • China 
  • Congo 
  • Cote d’lvoire
  • Cuba 
  • Djibouti 
  • Eritrea 
  • Ghana 
  • Guinea 
  • India 
  • Iran 
  • Iraq 
  • North Korea 
  • Liberia 
  • Libya 
  • Mali 
  • Myanmar 
  • Nauru 
  • Niger 
  • Nigeria 
  • Oman 
  • Pakistan 
  • Russia 
  • Saudia 
  • South Sudan 
  • Syria 
  • Turkey 
  • Turkmenistan 
  • Uzbekistan 
  • Venezuela 
  • Vietnam 
  • Yemen

Australia is a slight exception in that it requires either a visa or an ETA, an Electronic Travel Authority that can be completed online. Although Brazil has historically required US travellers to obtain a visa, this has no longer been the case since June 17, 2019.

Visa and Passport Expiration

Foreign countries have different rules surrounding expiration for both passports and visas. In the case of passports, you’ll have to pay special attention when the document is within one year of expiration. Some countries will not allow you in if your passport is less than 6 months away from expiration, some countries have the same rule that applies to less than 3 months, and still others will accept your passport as long as it is valid upon entry.

If your passport expires but contains a visa that is still valid, you don’t need to apply for a new visa when you get a new passport. As long as you carry both your valid passport and your old passport with the valid visa, you’ll be able to travel as normal.

In the case that your visa is about to expire, you may still be able to travel and remain even after your visa expires. This is because a visa’s expiration date is different from the approved amount of time a traveller may remain in a country for. For this reason, when you arrive at the entry gate, the duration of your stay may be approved even if it goes beyond your visa’s expiration date.

Visa Interviews

When you apply for a visa, you will likely have to set an appointment for an interview in order to get your visa approved. The questions typically asked in these interviews simply clarify your intent to travel, so details will be requested accordingly. Depending on the type of visa you apply for, you should be prepared to answer questions about:

  • Your university and the duration of your courses if you are a student
  • Your current job and related company details if you are travelling for business
  • Your spouse, regardless of whether or not you are travelling with them
  • Your children, especially if they are employed in the country you are visiting
  • Your place of temporary residence for the duration of your stay

Before You Travel

Getting all of your paperwork together for a visa and a passport can be both stressful and time-consuming. At The Passport Agency, we can ensure that your application details for a passport are accurate and get your paperwork approved in the timeframe you’ll need it in, with same-day services available for patrons who visit the office before 10am. Check out the application process now or request a passport agency appointment to get started on your way to international travel.

What To Bring To Your Atlanta Passport Agency Appointment

To expedite your passport as quickly and painlessly as possible, be prepared to have these five key items for documentation: proof of U.S. citizenship, proof of identity, passport photos, proof of intent to travel  and the appropriate passport form completed via an official government form filler online. There are various exceptions and rules for these items, so we’ll walk you through the details of each one to help you prepare accordingly.

We service both walk-ins and appointments for passports at our Atlanta location. To schedule an appointment or to ask any questions you have prior to visiting, call the office at (404) 889-8670. We’re located at 175 Peachtree Street NE Ste 2037 Atlanta, GA 30308.

[Suggested alt text: Bring proper documentation to your Atlanta passport agency appointment.]

Gather These Documents Before Your Appointment at the Atlanta Passport Agency

You will need to bring the following documentation with you to your Atlanta Passport Agency appointment:

Completed Passport Application 

  1. For new or child passports, you must obtain Form DS-11 “Application for a U.S. Passport” from the State Department’s website. You may complete it online; however, you will still need to print it out. The same goes for renewals, which use Form DS-82. Both forms can be found on the official government form filler.
  2. DO NOT SIGN IT UNTIL YOU ARE IN FRONT OF THE PASSPORT ACCEPTANCE AGENT. The agent must witness each traveler signing the form. 
  3. It is recommended that you use the government form filler to print your application. Applications filled out by hand will need to be typed in by our staff at the office.
  4. You will have to supply your Social Security number, address, information about your parents, information about your current or previous marriages, your birthdate, birthplace and your physical description. 
  5. For adult travelers who were never issued a Social Security number, you must draft, sign and date an affidavit that states, “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 (SSN) by the Social Security Administration (SSA).”

Proof of Citizenship

Be prepared to present proof of your US citizenship when you apply for a passport. Your old passport will suffice, as will a government-issued birth certificate that has been certified by the state in which you were born. If you were born outside of the United States, submit your naturalization or citizenship certificate or the consular report of birth abroad. If you use your naturalization certificate to apply, you are waived from the requirement to prove your identity. 

If unable to produce these documents, you will need to submit some early school records with your hospital-issued birth affidavit or birth certificate. Sometimes, circumstances arise (especially with older travelers) where no birth records are available. In lieu of those government records, you must obtain a letter from the government attesting to the same.

Proof of Identity 

To establish your identity, you can use an existing passport (if you have one). Other primary forms of identification include your naturalization or citizenship certificate, valid military ID, state ID or driver’s license or another type of government-issued identification card. 

 If you do not have front and back photocopies of the identification you intend to submit (this is printed on a letter-size sheet of white paper), you can visit in-person to have this service completed for you. Those lacking acceptable primary identification documents may alternatively submit multiple types of secondary identification like valid employee identification cards, credit cards, and Social Security cards. You can also bring along a witness willing to swear under oath you are whom you claim to be.

(H3) Passport Photo

 If you don’t have passport photos when you apply in-person, we can take the photos for you at the office. Acceptable passport photos need to be printed in color with 2-by-2-inch dimensions. They also need to be taken with you standing against an off-white or white background. Finally, the photo must have been taken within the six-month period preceding your passport application. You shouldn’t smile for the camera for this photo; assume a neutral facial expression and look straight ahead at the camera. Unless you have a signed affidavit that it is for religious reasons, you cannot cover your head in your passport photo. The same is true for glasses unless you have a signed statement from your physician that your glasses are medically necessary.  Regular, everyday clothing is recommended: uniforms, particularly those for military and government work, are not allowed.

Travel Itinerary

In order to have your expedited passport processed, you will need to provide proof of travel intent. Acceptable documents include one copy of your international cruise or airline reservations or a copy of reservations for your hotel or another lodging. If you don’t have an itinerary, you can substitute a business letter written on your company’s letterhead instead. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE DATES OF YOUR DS-11 AND TRAVEL ITINERARY MUST MATCH AND THE ITINERARY MUST STATE YOUR NAME.

Documentation You Will Need for Children’s Passport Application

If you will be traveling with a child who is 15 or younger, you must have proof of your parental identity, i.e., certified birth certificates, adoption decrees or other court orders. Should both of the child’s parents not be planning to travel with them overseas, the custodial parent must submit either documentation that they’ve been awarded sole custody or guardianship or obtain from their child’s other parent a statement of consent (Form DS-3053) granting that parent permission to apply for a passport for the child.

How to Renew Your Passport at the Atlanta Passport Office

You can renew your current or expired U.S passport online unless your passport was:

  • Issued more than 15 years ago
  • Issued before your 16th birthday
  • Lost, damaged, or stolen
  • Issued in your previous name and you don’t have a legal document to prove your name change
  • A temporary emergency passport issued abroad over a year ago.

If any of the above are true, you cannot renew your passport online and you must apply for a new passport in person at the Atlanta Passport Office using form DS-11. 

Passport renewal in Atlanta is easy. Simply follow the steps outlined below:

  1. Use the official government form filler to complete and print Form DS-82.
  2. Bring a passport photo. Follow the requirements listed above.
  3. Bring your most recent passport.
  4. If your name was changed, bring a certified copy of your marriage certificate or a court order of your name change.