Applying for a Passport at a Post Office (2024)

Applying for a Passport at a Post Office (1)

Of the more than 7,000 passport application acceptance facilities located in the United States and its territories, the vast majority can be found in local post offices. The U.S. Postal Service began offering passport services a few decades ago, due to the significant increase in American citizens who were applying for passports. County clerks and other state and municipal government offices alone could not handle the demand. The addition of post office passport services has eased that burden on other passport acceptance facilities.

Another significant increase in the number of applications submitted occurred when the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was instituted. In 2015 alone, there were 15,556,216 passport books issued. That is a 1,468,875 difference from the 2014 figures. This year-over-year increase did not let up. There were over 20 million passports issued in each of the years from 2017-2019.

As of 2020, there were a total of more than 143 million valid passports in circulation. If you plan to join this group and get your passport for the first time (or you need a new passport because your last one was issued more than 15 years ago) there is a good chance that you will be applying at a post office. Below are a few tips to guarantee that you get it done without a hitch.

Note: If you have urgent travel needs (meaning you need to travel abroad within the next month or sooner), your local post office locations will not provide you with the processing speed you need to get your passport as quickly as possible. In these situations, you will need to either get an appointment at a U.S. State Department Regional Processing Agency or enlist the help of a passport expeditor.

Tip #1: Schedule an Appointment at the Post Office

We frequently receive messages and comments from individuals who have visited a post office to submit a new passport application only to discover that an appointment was required. Post offices often change their hours of operation or close their passport services. So, the first step is to schedule an appointment online. This can be done from either a desktop or mobile device.

More than 20 million passport applications are processed every year. Add to that the number of facilities has significantly decreased from 8,400, just a few years ago, to a little over 7,000 today. Given this situation, the growing demand has made it almost impossible for acceptance facilities to keep up. Therefore, we recommend that you look for a walk-in passport office near you.

Note: If you need to renew your passport, you should do so by mailing your renewal application, renewal fees, passport photo, and all your documents (with priority mail express or USPS First Class Mail) to the passport by mail address on the DS-82 Form. You do not need to make an appointment at a post office to renew your passport.

Tip #2: Choose Your Appointment Time Wisely

This tip is especially important for applicants who live in large cities and plan to visit a high-traffic post office. Having an appointment does not guarantee that you will be attended to at that exact time. You still may have to wait in line. Be sure to schedule sufficient time in your day for this task.

If possible, choose a time when there is less traffic. Contact the local USPS office for recommendations. You may be redirected to a different post office than your nearest acceptance facility or passport agency.

Tip #3: Double Check Your Documents

It can be frustrating to arrive at the post office and wait your turn only to be told that there is a problem with the application form, one of your citizenship documents, or your passport photo. Be sure to verify the current passport requirements to be sure you have all the items you need to bring to the post office for your appointment.

Some of the most common items include:

  • Most recent passport book or passport card
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth
  • Naturalization Certificate
  • Certificate of Citizenship

You also need to make certain that your passport photo meets the required specifications. An unacceptable photo is one of the principal reasons why passport applications are delayed.

For a full list of the required items to include in your passport application package, check out our guide to the supporting documents required for a passport.

Note: The U.S. Department of State requires an original or certified copy of any document sent as part of a new passport or passport renewal application. Photocopied or scanned documents will not be accepted by the passport application services office.

These documents will be mailed back to you, but they mailed be back separately from your new passport.

Bonus Tip: Get Your Photo Taken at the Passport Office

Not every post office offers photo service, but there are a lot of them that do. Ask if the post office where you plan to apply offers on-site passport photo service. If they do, you can save yourself a lot of time.

Processing Time at Post Offices

Standard passport processing for routine service can take months. Routine processing currently takes 6 to 8 weeks.

Expedited processing currently takes 2 to 3 weeks.

Remember that these are just the best estimates from the U.S. Department of State. You can expect to wait at least 2 months or possibly more during peak travel periods.

Starting in January and going through the summer months, demand is very high and the total time to get a passport book or passport card can increase significantly, especially if there are any problems with your application form or supporting documents.

To ensure speedy processing of your passport application, you can request expedited service at the post office where you apply. While there is an additional fee of $60, it will decrease the processing time by several weeks. You can even add an optional fee to your payment for overnight delivery of your new passport.

We recommend using the fastest available mailing option that includes USPS Delivery Tracking Service. This way you can get your new, valid passport with expedited delivery service and keep track of where it is in transit.

You can track your application processing status using the passport tracking tool available on the State Department website.

Top 5 Questions About Expedited Passport Couriers

1. How can you get a passport when you're in a hurry?
2. What exactly does a passport expediter do?
3. Are passport expediting services legitimate?
4. How can I identify a reliable passport expeditor?
5. Is expedited passport service worth it?Get answers to these questions and more in our Ultimate U.S. Traveler's Guide to Passport Expediters.

You can also visit our library of articles about passport expediting.

In a Hurry? Get Reliable Expedited Passport Courier Service:Expedite My U.S.Passport Now!

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Applying for a Passport at a Post Office (2024)

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