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
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:
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.