Expedited Passports Now Take 3 Weeks To Arrive, Not 3 Days

Travelers paying $60 to expedite their passport application should prepare to wait three weeks, not three business days, for their passport to arrive. The State Department published the change last week in the Federal Register, shifting the target processing date for expedited applications from “three business days” to “a number of business days,” which, according to the Washington Post, means three weeks. Members of Congress lambasted the change:

“What color is the sky in their world?” Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) said to the Associated Press. “I can’t believe they’re proposing a rule where they want to charge you the same amount, and in return, you’re virtually guaranteed to get worse service.”

Travelers in dire need of a passport should reach out to the federal government’s executive customer service department, which, ironically, is the legislative branch.

Members of Congress have staff that excel at prodding executive agencies into action. Call your Member of Congress’ district office and ask to speak with a Constituent Liaison. As with all things passport related, allow for plenty of lead time to increase your chance of success.

Extra $60 for Faster Passport Service Doesn’t Cut Wait by Much [Washington Post]
(Photo: Maulleigh)


Edit Your Comment

  1. catnapped says:

    Obvious next step is “whenever we get around to it”. No doubt meant to annoy the (so called) “America haters” who wish to leave the country.

  2. But REAL Americans don’t WANT to travel. That would mean leaving AMERICA where everything is awesome. So its clearly the faults of the people who paid to get expedited service for being so obvious in their disdain for America.

    I can totally seeing the current Administration making the above argument.

  3. FREAKHEAD says:

    I got mine about 6 weeks ago. I paid for expedited and got it in 10 days. I was told without expedited it would be 84 calender days. I am unsure if this has increased or decreased but I am glad I did what I did.

    The gov’t always seems to be under prepared for everything, be it a hurricane or this. Proactive is not in their vocabulary. God forbid they think ahead and plan accordingly. Especially if they get their way and demand we have a passport or Federal ID in accordance to the “REAL ID ACT”.

    From Slashdot:

    “The IDs will be required for access to all federal areas including flights, state parks and federal buildings. People in states refusing to comply will need to show passports even for domestic flights.”


    Ahhhh…can’t wait to hear a government official utter, “Papers please!”

  4. zolielo says:

    PMFs not working hard enough. ;)

  5. DjDynasty says:

    It’s the goverment, You expect them to do anything efficently? I mean,, do you really think a toliet costs $1,000?

  6. letoofdune says:

    After living in Washington, DC for about 2 months, the only thing I’ve come to be convinced of is the inept practices of the Federal Government. My girlfriend’s part of the bureaucracy, and it even drives her insane.

  7. catskyfire says:

    I’m not a federal employee, but I’ve got to cut them some slack. The high policy makers said ‘passports needed for Canada, Mexico, and the various Islands, where Passports weren’t needed before’ and they got inundated. Imagine if you were normally processing, say, 10,000 requests a month, and suddenly it went to 20,000…or 50,000…

    I don’t know the real numbers, but we know that it skyrocketed. And it does take time to process them, and they probably weren’t given the budget to higher a hundred more people…

  8. letoofdune says:


    This is a prime example of the instances within the federal government where the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing. It’s fine to make laws requiring passports for new situations, but if you don’t have the infrastructure in place to do this, then you have to think ahead.

    Same with any sort of federal program that Congress will rush through for the public good, yet will inevitably lack any sort of funding or infrastructure.

    This kind of logic makes me want to merge my head with the desk ahead of me.

  9. DeeJayQueue says:

    in most cases if you’re travelling you can print the page from the website that says “I applied for my passport” with the ID number on it. The only snafu is that especially in Canada if you don’t have a passport you need your birth certificate. If you are getting your passport for the first time you have to send in your birth certificate so you won’t have one. So essentially you can get on the plane, get to customs in Canada, then turn right back around and get on a plane home.

  10. weave says:

    My brother got a passport while he waited before, due to our grandmother’s death in UK. We had to buy a ticket first (for the next day’s flight) then drive to Philadelphia, show the ticket, then got the passport done in about two hours.

    This was about 10 years ago, not sure if they still offer that option of in-person processing. A call to your Representatives office should clear it up.

  11. Buran says:

    @catskyfire: Then why didn’t they do something to accommodate the increased number of requests they knew this would generate?

    Thanks for playing.

  12. WindowSeat says:

    I said it before months ago, but it bears repeating; the time to get a passport is when you aren’t expecting to use it. The new regulations have made a process that took quite a long time even longer. I think spending the money on a document you may or may not use is well spent considering the aggravation people are going through now.

  13. cde says:

    @Buran: They did do something. They postponed the need for passports by allowing the online confirmation to act as proof.

    @weave: You can still do that. My friend went last minute for a passport to Philly for a trip she went on the following weekend.

    @catskyfire: At one point two months ago, it was 72k requests for passports. Expidited was like one month instead of three.

  14. Phipps6505 says:

    The State Department bungled this. The Congress passed the law, and the State Department, despite being given a couple of years to prepare, didn’t. Congress even delayed it a bit and the State Department still didn’t prepare.

    Using your Rep as executive customer service does work. My brother had to get a passport to go out of the country for work. He had to wait until 14 days prior to his departure, but his Rep really came through for him.

  15. thoughtfix says:

    Confirmed here. I ordered mine 3 weeks ago and it arrived yesterday morning.

  16. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Stupid law in the first place, right up there with the “Real ID” act. Say hello to the Department of Fatherland Security.
    Is this stupid requirement inconveniencing any terrorists?

  17. thoughtfix says:

    By the way – Wherever you file your passport application (I did it at the local post office) will TELL YOU how much of a wait to expect for standard and expedited service. The wait changes constantly, but due to new laws there is a HUGE demand for passports right now. Previously, travelers to Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda did not need passports. Now they do.

    Can’t blame the State Department. I am sure they’re doing their best to keep up given the limited budget. Must blame the legislators of the Dubya Regime.

  18. magic8ball says:

    I applied in April, and it took about 17 weeks for my (non-expedited) application to get processed. I was lucky – my passport arrived four days before I was scheduled to leave. A friend of mine actually missed a trip to Peru because in spite of her congressman’s efforts on her behalf, her passport did not get processed in time. It made me really mad that the State Department website was still estimating 10 to 12 weeks to process a normal application, when the real wait time was much longer, and they knew that it was longer.

  19. velvetjones says:

    If you need a passport asap, use an expediter. It’s expensive but virtually guaranteed. For about $250 + gov fees you can get an emergency passport in 24h.

  20. lakai says:

    actually, if you need a passport asap, you need to go to a federal passport office, i needed one for my son and got it the next day for the $60 expidite fee. I was surprised being it the Los angeles office. Just to add, you MUST make an appointment.

    Here is a tip to get a next day appointment for the LA office being it is IMPOSSIBLE to get an appointment through the automated system for anything less than 2 weeks.

    After trying for days and on the phone for literally hours total, I figured it out.

    Every morning at 5:30, they open a certain number of appointments ranging from 8am-12pm lastest for the same day. You will be guarenteed to get an appointment the earlier you make one. All the slots are usually taken within an hour.

  21. Rudko says:

    I had a very good experience getting my new passport last month.

    I live overseas, but was told the passport still had to be processed in the US so would take at least 20 days and probably longer.

    However, I had my new passport in my hands 8 days after I mailed in my forms. Considering there was a weekend in there it hardly seemed possible. I spent the rest of day saying to myself “I can’t believe I got my passport in 8 days.”

    8 days, over seas, no expedition fees, nothing, just my passport form, the regular fees and the picture. Seems like the passport office people have the stuff together to me.

  22. Buran says:

    @cde: Yeah, but that’s not enough sometimes. So that doesn’t count.

  23. elimseoj says:

    Here we blame the government for our mistake. I don’t travel overseas as a general rule. But I have always had a passport.

    I mark my calendar 9 years and 6 months from the issue date to get another. My wife does the same. The government could send us a reminder to renew – that would be nice – somewhat like a driver’s license.

    Ooops!! I’d have to let the government know my address. UMMMM? Maybe the passport could be tied to our tax return address. Better yet, just baby me at all cost.

  24. acambras says:

    Previously, travelers to Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda did not need passports.

    Might want to revise your statement. I’m an American who traveled to Peru (in South America) in 1999 and Panama (in Central America) in 2000, and both trips required my passport.

  25. zolielo says:

    @DeeJayQueue: It is a nice lifehacker style tip to get an official copy of one’s birth certificate.

    @thoughtfix: Honestly from what I understand it is the lack of people that can be trusted to do sensitive grunt work. Like may tasks in the government, the task itself is not a change, the tricky part is getting people with the proper character to handle other people’s personal information safely.

    For that reason I made my joke about PMFs that have been forced to process passport applications.

  26. zolielo says:


  27. thiophene says:

    Zolielo is right.

  28. thiophene says:

    Zolielo is right. Working on passports requires a security clearance, which is not easy to get and can take months. The State Department can’t just bring in temps from Manpower, and they can only ask their current staff to work so much overtime.

    Also, passports require specialized equipment and supplies – they don’t use HP laser printers :-) The manufacturers of passport-printing supplies have limited capacity and long lead times, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re maxed out.

    The situation is similar to, say, the Treasury going to Crane Paper and asking for a big temporary jump in dollar bill paper, or Steve Jobs going to Samsung and asking for a big temporary jump in flash chip deliveries. They’d just get a slap on the back and a belly laugh.

  29. LibidinousSlut says:


    I did the same thing (only in NY) to get my passport expedited when I was going to France (I just slacked and waited till the last second), I got my passport within an hour, but that was just because it was right after 9/11, normally it takes longer ( a few hours). To do this you can’t go to like your local post office the way you can ordinarily to get a passport agency. You have to go to a passport agency, and I think there’s only approximately 15 in the country.

  30. formergr says:

    That tip to print out the online confirmation only works if you’re going to Canada, Mexico, or the Carribean by the way. Anywhere else in the world and you are out of luck. And this only lasts until September 30, which really won’t help the still ongoing backlog that will remain past that date:

    “U.S. citizens traveling to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or countries in the Caribbean region who have applied for, but not yet received passports, can re-enter the United States by air by presentation of a government issued photo identification and Department of State official proof of application for a passport through September 30, 2007. The federal government is making this accommodation for air travel due to longer than expected processing times for passport applications in the face of record-breaking demand.”

  31. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Confirmed again. I work for a huge multi-national corporation, and they use an expediting service. I just had to renew my passport in preparation for an overseas training trip. With overnight delivery and hand courier from the service’s offices, it was three weeks on the nose.

  32. @elimseoj: “I mark my calendar 9 years and 6 months from the issue date to get another.”

    Even back before the ridiculous slowdown in passport issuance, it was generally recommended that you apply for your passport six months before you were going to need it and renew it AT LEAST six months before it expired.

    Some countries do not let foreign nationals in who have six months or fewer on their passports. Apparently if you let your passport expire while visiting as a way of immigrating illegally you’re more difficult to deport or something.

    Anyway, you should NEVER have just six months left on your passport if you intend to travel. People wait much too long to deal with these things.

    (And, of course, boo-hiss that I can’t just use my DL to go to Canada. So stupid. Terrorists so busy not-caring. Americans so busy being inconvenienced.)

  33. Becsamillion says:

    I’m planning a trip to Ireland in January, and what with all the news about the delays I thought it’d take forever. I put my app in on July 18 and had my passport in my hands by August 10. No expedited service, no trip to the passport agency in DC (which, btw, has had *insane* lines every time I go past it, any time of day). I just went to my post office – what I’m curious about is whether they have different people handling different regions. It would make sense, but maybe some areas have less demand so it goes through faster? (Or they could have just seen that my dad is former State Dept and thought they’d be nice…)

  34. welsey says:

    Getting a passport done at the massive federal passport offices only takes a few hours (I’ve done it because I accidentally put my passport through the washing machine right before I had to leave) but it’s a major hassle if you don’t have an open schedule and live close to a big city. It would definitely require taking a day off of work just to get the passport and if you have to include travel time even more. But it’s more reliable than the mail, so stress-wise it’s probably worth it. Unless sitting in federal buildings with angry people for a few hours rates higher on your stress list…

  35. @Rudko:


    I live in the UK. I lost my US passport, so I went down to the US embassy here in London. I had a new one within 2 hours. I think it cost me around £80. I was amazed how quick the turnaround was at the embassy. When I got my original passport in the states, it took about 6 weeks … that was back in 2000, I think.

  36. queen_elvis says:

    @catskyfire: As with so many other things, from the Consumer Product Safety Commission to No Child Left Behind, this can be boiled down to the president and Congress making rules they don’t want to fund.

  37. cindel says:

    Who said it was three days? I got mine in three weeks using expedited service.

    If you really need one, make an appointment and apply in person.

  38. Helvetian says:

    And this is why it’s such a delight to possess dual citizenship. I get my Swiss passport in just a few days, and the Swiss Embassy can get me a provisional passport in as few as three hours for an emergency. It’s also much safer to use a neutral passport, and I don’t need Visa’s to visit lots of places Americans do. On the other hand, I need my US Passport for entry into the US so I always have to one active.

  39. Gesualdo says:

    In June, it took me 9 days to get my passport renewed through the expedited service.

  40. Her Grace says:

    @weave: Yes, you can still get a passport that quickly. If you are travelling in the next day, head to your local passport authority and apply in person with proof of travel.

  41. bashar82 says:

    Last year I needed a passport within a few days. My county in Virginia was overseen by the passport facility in New Orleans. They wanted me to go from Virginia to New Orleans when the DC office was a 45 minute drive away! Thankfully, my senator’s office was able to help out.