As COVID-19 restrictions relax and the temperature rises, it’s easy to get travel fever. However, for those looking to travel abroad, passport approval delays could put a damper on your plans for the summer. Keep reading to learn more.
The State of Things
Since the Biden Administration stepped into office and the Coronavirus pandemic began, travel and immigration to and from the United States has been complicated at best. In this tumultuous transition period, it’s essential to make sure that you are doing your part to expedite your passport application.
There are two main categories of passport justifications: emergencies and travel. Depending on your situation, you may need to follow a different process for approval.
For life or death emergencies, the U.S. Department of State will allow qualifying applicants to schedule an appointment with an agent to expedite their passports. To qualify, you must be visiting an immediate family member (parent, guardian, spouse, child) for less than 72 hours. You’ll need to follow these steps to get an emergency passport:
- Get documentation from a doctor or mortician that clearly explains the emergency. Death certificates, letters from a hospital, and signed statements from a mortuary are all acceptable forms of documentation.
- If the documents are not in English, have them translated by a certified translator.
- Provide proof that you are traveling internationally within the next three days.
- Complete a passport application and submit supporting documents.
- Confirm your eligibility for an emergency passport with a U.S. Department of State travel agent.
Once you have followed the above steps and scheduled the meeting, you are well on your way to getting an emergency passport.
For those looking for a way to expedite non-emergency travel, the urgency of your plans may play a significant role in how quickly you get a passport.
- Individuals who plan to leave in the next 72 hours can pursue an expedited passport, but there are extremely limited appointments available. You are not guaranteed to get an appointment with an agent in time for your trip.
- Those who wish to leave within 12-18 weeks can go through an acceptance facility. These facilities have agents who can guide you through the application process.
- Applicants who plan to leave the U.S. in more than 18 weeks may either apply through an acceptance facility or renew an existing passport by mail.
Remember: there’s no “fast pass” option for government documentation. You may apply through an expedited process but keep in mind that results will not be immediate. Even if you select two-day delivery for your application, the process still takes time. Don’t wait till the last minute!
Other Tips and Tricks
The Department of State offers an online form filler tool that can help you organize and send documents more quickly than if you mailed them to the main office. This is especially helpful for applicants who do not need translation services.
For those attempting to expedite their passport through an acceptance facility, you will need to complete Form DS-11 several weeks before your departure date. Once you’ve completed Form DS-11, be sure to pay any application fees and choose express mail for your application.
To renew a passport, complete Form DS-62 and mail it in with “EXPEDITE” written legibly on the outside of the envelope. Always choose the express option for faster delivery. Always remember to pay any application fees, mailing costs, and delivery fees to ensure that your application reaches the destination.
While not always advisable, courier companies can also transport your application from point A to point B. However, read through the courier and expeditor guidelines here for more information.