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 travel.state.gov. 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.