How to Speed Up Your U.S. Passport Application

By  //  November 15, 2022

The U.S. passport is a prerequisite for US nationals who want to travel abroad. With it, you can even enter a long list of countries around the world without a visa.

However, the application process to get a US passport is a long and sometimes complicated process. Not counting the time you fill the forms and gather all the needed documents (and if you’re applying via the mail, the mailing time), it usually takes eight to eleven weeks for your passport to be processed.

If you urgently need a US passport, whatever your reason is, here are some tips that you may apply to speed up the overall process.

What you can personally do

There are a few things you can do yourself to make sure that your passport application will be accepted and processed as quickly as possible.

Make sure you complete the form correctly

Filling forms may be a straightforward process for some people: all you need to do is fill your data according to what the forms ask. However, since it’s an application form for such a vital piece of document that doesn’t only grant you entry to foreign countries, but also protects your rights abroad, make sure you understand all the details of the DS-11 passport application form.

Make sure your application photo satisfies the requirements

One of the most common stumbling blocks in US passport application processes is that photos may be rejected for not fulfilling the passport photo requirements. To the untrained eye, photos that clearly identify the passport holder seem decent enough. However, those photos also enter the US passport database and must therefore be standardized.

Check the appointment availability at your local Acceptance Facility

You may need to book an appointment to hand in your passport application. To avoid being turned away at the door and wasting time, it’s better to make sure to contact your local Acceptance Facility and ask whether an appointment is necessary and if so, book one.

Booking an appointment is free and cannot be transferred to another person. 

Bureau of Consular Affairs’ services to speed up your application

Even if you’ve made sure that you have all the needed documents and double-triple-checked your form and photo, the passport processing time ultimately depends on the US Bureau of Consular Affairs.

However, there are several bases on which you may get a US passport fast.

Life-or-death emergency

If you have a life or death emergency and need to get a passport immediately to travel within three business days, you may use the Life-or-Death Emergency Service. You qualify for this service if an immediate relative of yours abroad has died, is in hospice care, or has a life-threatening illness or injury. 

For the purposes of this service, only parents, legal guardians, children, spouse, siblings, or grandparents qualify as your immediate relative.

The date of your appointment must be within three days of your travel, but can be scheduled up to two weeks before said the date of travel.

Urgent international travel plans

If you urgent plans to travel abroad within 2 weeks, or need a foreign visa within 4 weeks, you may apply to have your passport application expedited at an Agency or Center. However, there is only a limited number of appointments available for these cases. There are also restrictions in place. Contact your local Agency or Center for more information.

The date of your passport appointment must be within 5 business days of the planned international travel. If you need to get a foreign visa, the passport appointment can be within 10 business days of travel. 

Expedite your passport process without a specific reason

Sometimes, we don’t have a specific reason to want our passport application process to be sped up but would like that anyway. While it’s true that without any urgent reason it’s not possible to get a passport as fast as applicants who use the aforementioned services, expediting your passport process may save you some precious time.

Expedite at an Acceptance Facility

To expedite your passport application, you will need to pay a $60 expedite fee, which does not cover the optional delivery fee of your completed passport. To ensure that your application is shipped more quickly, purchase USPS’ Priority Mail Express.

Expedite by mail

If you’re applying by mail, besides filling up the appropriate form correctly, you may also include a $60 expedite fee in addition to your normal application fee. You must also clearly write “EXPEDITE” on the application package envelope. As is the case with expediting your application at an acceptance facility, the expedite fee does not cover the optional 1-2 day delivery fee. For faster shipping, purchase USPS’ Priority Mail Express.