Passport Statistics: The Reason it Takes so Long to Get a Passport From the Federal Government

You probably don’t give much thought to passport statistics such as the number of U.S. passports that are issued every year unless you’re standing in a long line waiting to submit your application. But if you stop for just a minute to think about it, you can understand why getting your passport is such a lengthy process.

The sheer volume of applications makes it impossible for the State Department to quickly issue passports. Millions of Americans apply for passports every year, and the number of applicants has increased dramatically since new regulations were introduced requiring U.S. citizens traveling to and from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central and South America to have a passport.

In 2000, the government issued approximately 7 million passports. By 2010 that number had more than doubled to nearly 15 million. With passport statistics like this, it’s easy to see why you have to wait so long to get your passport. The government has opened new regional passport agencies and taken other steps to respond to increasing demand, but it still takes several weeks from the time of application to receive your passport.

Processing Time

Unless you are applying for your passport at a regional passport agency, you will be asked to choose routine or expedited service when you submit your application. If you choose routine service, you can expect to receive your passport within four to six weeks. If you need your passport quicker, the government will expedite your application for a $60 fee.

When you choose expedited service, your application will be processed in two to three weeks. However, these times are only estimates. Passport statistics show that if you apply for your passport at a time when application volume is particularly high, it could take longer for you to receive your passport. It is always best to apply as far in advance of your trip as possible.

Applying at a Regional Passport Agency

If you cannot apply for your passport well in advance of your trip and you need your passport for travel within two weeks, there is another way you can get your passport quickly. Regional passport agencies can issue passports the same day you apply. There are 24/25 passport agencies throughout the country that issue same day passports.

Applications are accepted by appointment only, so be sure to call ahead and make an appointment. As passport statistics show, many Americans need last minute passports, so this is a great option for individuals who live near a passport agency. Unfortunately with so few agencies in the United States, it’s not practical for many Americans. If applying at a passport agency is not an option for you, there is one more way you can get your passport fast.

Professional Passport Expediters

As passport application volume and processing times have increased, so has the need for passport expediters. If you need your passport quickly and can’t get to a passport agency, they will apply for your passport on your behalf. Professional expediters are registered with the State Department to hand carry passport applications to the passport agency, so you don’t have to.

Passport statistics show that when you work with an expediting service like “easy service,” you can usually get your passport in as little as 24 hours. If you are eligible to apply for your passport by mail, simply complete form DS-82 and mail it with the required fees and documentation to the expediter, and they will deliver it to the passport agency so you don’t have to.

If you are required to apply for your passport in person, you must appear before a passport acceptance agent who will verify your identity and witness you sign form DS-11. The agent will put your application materials in a sealed envelope that you will send to the expediter.

After that your job is done. They will take care of the rest. When your passport has been issued, the expediting service will overnight it to you, so you can be on your way. When you work with a professional passport expediter, you can be sure that you will have your passport when you need it, so you don’t have to delay your travel plans.


Return From Passport Statistics to National Passport Information Center