Getting a U.S. Passport During the COVID-19 Pandemic
By Kennedee Keys, on February 9, 2021
As you all know COVID-19 has taken a toll on all of our lives in so many different ways. It has affected our day-to-day operations, including the cancellations of many special memory-making travel plans that were planned for the past year.
Unfortunately, if you have had to get a new passport or even had your passport renewed you have experienced serious delays. Before the pandemic, you could have used American Passport & Visa International’s (APVI) expedited service to get a passport in as little as 24 hours, but COVID-19 has completely changed that for the foreseeable future.
Currently, APVI is unable to accept passports for any processing speed of any type. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, Passport Agencies suspended expedited passport processing. As global conditions evolve and states within the US begin to reopen, Passport Agencies are resuming operations in 3 phases. As of today, a total of 6 passport agencies are in phase two, and 12 agencies are in phase one. APVI will start accepting new applications in phase three.
Emergency Passport Processing
Due to COVID-19, expedited passports are only available for people who are in life-or-death emergencies that require immediate international travel within 72 hours. If you have qualified for an expedited passport, you must be able to provide the necessary documentation such as death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional, and you must call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778. According to the Department of State’s website, some passport agencies may offer an extremely limited number of appointments for customers who have an urgent international travel in the next 72 hours for reasons other than a life-or-death emergency. To find out if you are eligible for an appointment, please visit the passport agency information page.
Regular Passport Processing
If you are not in any need of emergency international travel, you must apply for routine service by most commonly going to your nearest acceptance agency. Most acceptance agencies such as post offices, clerks of court, and libraries are open and accepting passport applications. This routine service can get you a passport in ten to twelve weeks. Most recently, the Department of State has included the option of receiving your passport in four to six weeks.
When applying for a regular passport, please make sure you are prepared and have all the necessary documentation. There are a few things you can do at home to make it easier when applying. You can download and fill out your passport application forms, check all the fees included, review the photo requirements, make sure you have efficient proof of citizenship and identification. If you have a pending application, you are now able to request to expedite your passport in 4-6 weeks, by calling the National Passport Information Center.
Finding ways to travel and enjoy the world has been difficult, we hope we can return to normal very soon. In the meantime, while you adjust to the longer than expected wait times to get a passport, you can always plan your trips further in the future to be better prepared for the passport process. Remember, never book your trip until you have already obtained your passport to prevent disappointments. If you would like to be notified when the passport offices reach phase 3 please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.