Worn Passport
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

Wait: How Many Weeks to Get a Passport?

Routine service for the processing of passport operations by the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State of the United States has been impacted significantly over the past 16 months due to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus, as three phases were implemented for the resumption of the normal operations of processing passport applications at official facilities, passport agencies, and passport centers — and that service had been slowly returning to normal…

Wait: How Many Weeks to Get a Passport?

…but that routine service for the processing of passport operations now may take as long as 18 weeks — or approximately 4.5 months — from the day the application is submitted, according to this latest official update from the government agency.

Below is a verbatim copy of that official update.

What to Expect:

  • Mail delays are impacting when we receive passport applications for processing. Our processing times begin the day we receive your application, not the day you mail it.
  • Routine service can take up to 18 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received. The 18-week timeframe includes up to 12 weeks for processing and up to 6 weeks for mailing times on the front and back end.
  • Expedite service (for an additional $60) can take up to 12 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received. The 12-week timeframe includes up to 6 weeks for processing and up to 6 weeks for mailing times on the front and back end.
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Our processing times (up to 12 weeks for routine; up to 6 weeks for expedite) do not include mailing times. Mail times vary and delays have been significant. Plan ahead.

We suggest you:

  • Send your application to us via trackable mail, so you can track your application before it enters our system. This can be done whether applying at an acceptance facility or by mail.
  • Pay an extra $17.56 for 1-2 day delivery for the return of your completed passport.
passport stamps
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

More about Status Updates: It may take up to 6 weeks from the day you submit your application until your status is “In Process.” During these 6 weeks, your application is delivered to a mail facility, your payment is processed, and your application is entered into our system. Even if your passport status update says, “Not Available,” your application and supporting documents are safely on their way to us. Check online for your passport status.

Use Self-Service Tools Online: Our call center is experiencing extremely high call volumes with longer-than-usual wait times. You can get your questions answered immediately by using one of the self-service tools available on our site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. What you see online is the same information that call center representatives can share with you by phone.

Planning to Travel? Apply Early! Apply at least six months before planned travel. Due to limited availability for urgent travel appointments, we cannot guarantee you can receive in-person service at a  passport agency or center. We are prioritizing customers with life-or-death emergencies. Visit our Passport Agency and Center page to learn more.

Renew By Mail:  Adults with 10-year passports can renew them by mail instead of appearing in person.


Thankfully, people I know who have applied for passport renewals have not had to wait the full 18 weeks. Anecdotally, one person imparted to me that a new passport was received on Saturday, June 5, 2021 after applying for a replacement on Wednesday, April 21, 2021, which is a total of six weeks and three days…

…but take that experience lightly, as you never know what impediments may prevent you from getting your passport that soon instead of the full 18 weeks.

Hopefully, the extended wait for a new passport is only on a short temporary basis until the processing of applications can be normalized once again.

Other articles pertaining to the history of processing passports during the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic — plus a couple of other articles pertaining to passports — include:

All photographs ©2016 and ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

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