What’s the Average? How Long Does it Take to Get a Passport
Getting a passport is a crucial part of any international travel plans, but the question often comes up of just how long it takes to get a passport approved. The answer to this inquiry can vary greatly based on a variety of factors that include the type of passport being applied for, if a request for a rush is made, as well as the overall demand for passports at any given time. While there are some general timelines for how long a passport application should take place to process, these time tables can be changed. A huge surge in applications can resort in slowing down the process times because they may overwhelm the number of workers available. After all, there still are only so many hours in the day. On the other hand, a huge drop in applications could slightly speed up the process or at least make the lower end of the general timeline.
So what is the average time frame for a passport?
While the average wait time is occasionally updated on the official site, as of this writing the average time on the site http://travel.state.gov/passport/processing/processing_1740.html is given as 4 to 6 weeks from the time of application. This is purely an average and not a guarantee, as there are many factors that can affect how quickly this takes place. Depending on the total number of workers and total volume of applications any individual passport may take fewer weeks or it may take more.
What are the most common exceptions?
Generally there are not many exceptions to this time frame. In certain circumstances, say in the event of a massive movement of troops to new military bases overseas or a massive movement of workers to permanent overseas or diplomatic positions, in these cases the passports created for official use or diplomatic use may be issued more quickly while normal passport applications fall back to the end of the line until the new demand is met.
The other most common exception is when an emergency passport is issued. This deals with a very specific situation, which is replacing a passport that is missing, stolen, or lost. When traveling overseas replacing a passport is extremely important and most people don’t have 4-6 weeks to wait. In this situation a replacement passport can often be procured extremely quickly, often within a day or two.
Is there any way to speed up the process?
Finally applicants do have the option of requesting an expedited process. This often requires an additional fee to move along the process at a much faster clip, but it can cut weeks off of the process time. Getting a passport in a hurry is a viable option, although “hurry” is a relative term. If you need a passport as quickly as possible, then you will want to look up the information found at http://travel.state.gov/passport/hurry/hurry_831.html to understand the most recent requirements as well as the additional fees associated with a rush.