What Happens at a Passport Office?

If you need a passport for your next trip, you can apply for one at a passport office, also known as a passport acceptance facility. The U.S. Department of State has designated thousands of post offices, clerks of court, public libraries and other state, county, township and municipal government offices throughout the country as passport acceptance facilities where you can submit your passport application. To find a passport acceptance facility in your area, visit the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs website.

Your passport will not actually be issued at one of these offices. Instead the acceptance facility will send your application to the U.S. Passport Agency, where it will be processed and your passport will be issued.

After your passport has been issued, it will be sent to you by mail. Since the acceptance facility doesn’t issue your passport, you might be wondering what happens there. Below is a brief overview about what happens at a passport office, and why they are so important in the application process.

Appear Before An Acceptance Agent

In certain situations, you will be required to appear before a passport acceptance agent to have your identity verified and the signing of your DS-11 application form witnessed. The only way to appear before an agent is to go to a passport acceptance facility or a passport agency.

You will be required to appear before an acceptance agent if:

  • You are applying for your first passport
  • You are under 16 years old
  • You got your most recent passport when you were under 16 years old
  • Your last passport was issued more than 15 years ago
  • Your most recent passport was damaged, lost or stolen
  • Your current name is different than the name on your passport, and you can’t document your name change
  • Submit Your Application

    If you are required to apply for your passport in person, you can submit your application at a passport office.

    In addition to your application form (DS-11), you will also be required to submit:

  • Proof of citizenship, (e.g. certified birth certificate or a naturalization certificate)
  • Identification (e.g. valid driver’s license, or current government or military ID)
  • A photocopy of the front and back of your identification
  • Passport photo
  • >
  • All applicable fees
  • NOTE: There may be additional requirements based on your individual circumstances.

    Routine vs. Expedited Processing

    When you apply for your passport at an acceptance facility, you can choose routine or expedited processing. Routine processing takes an average of four to six weeks and expedited processing takes an average of two to three weeks and costs an additional $60. However, it can take longer for your passport to be processed during peak application times throughout the year.

    Passport Office vs. Passport Agency

    If you are traveling in less than two weeks, you can apply for your passport at a regional passport agency instead of an acceptance facility, but you must make an appointment before you arrive.

    You will usually have your passport the same day, but there are no guarantees. In addition, there are only 24 regional passport agencies in the country. Most of them are located in large cities and traveling to one is not realistic for many people.

    If you need your passport quickly and applying at a passport agency is not a practical option, you can get a professional passport expediter like “easy service” to apply for your passport on your behalf.

    If you are required to appear before an acceptance agent, you can do so at a passport office. After the agent verifies your identity, he/she will put your application form (DS-11) as well as the required documentation in a sealed envelope and return it to you. You send the envelope to the passport expediting service, and they take care of the rest.

    A representative from the expediting service will hand carry your application to the U .S. Passport Agency for processing and pick up your passport when it has been issued. The expediter will either mail your passport to you, or you can pick it up from their office.

    You can usually have your passport within 24 hours if you have urgent travel plans. When you work with a professional expediting service like “easy service” you don’t have to lose sleep wondering if you will have your passport in time to travel.


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