Traveling continues to slow down in a much-needed effort to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic. Even though we’re at a standstill, you might need to travel or have your travel documents current and up to date. So how can you get a new or renewed passport right now?
While federal offices that offer in-person services have closed, some U.S. Department of State passport centers remain open and provide limited passport service. (Exceptions include Atlanta, GA, New Orleans, LA, Stamford, CT, New York, and San Juan, PR offices—all are closed until further notice.)
Post offices are still accepting applications, but you’ll need to fill out an online “apply in-person” application. If you need to apply in person for a passport, you must contact the nearest facility to ensure they are currently operating.
The U.S. Department of State outlines life-or-death emergencies as anything related to serious illness, injury, or death of members of your immediate family only (child, parent, sibling, spouse, aunt, or uncle). You can only apply for an emergency passport in this case if you need to travel outside of the U.S. within the following 72 hours.
For life-or-death appointments, call the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778 Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm EST (with the exception of federal holidays). If you need to contact them after closing hours, call 202-647-4000.
To apply, you’ll need:
- A passport application with supporting documents
- Proof of the life-or-death emergency such as a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional. Documents must be in English or translated in English.
- Proof of international travel (e.g. reservation, ticket, itinerary) specific to the emergency
On March 19th, expedited passport services were suspended. Even if you applied and requested expedited service on or before the 19th of March, you should expect delays—although the National Passport Information Center has stated that they will try their best to honor the 2-3 week delivery timeframe. And if you applied for standard services by March 19th, expect to receive your passport in 6-8 weeks.
If you receive a letter from the State Department requesting extra documents or information needed to process the passport application, your response must be mailed to the address on the letter. This will also result in extended processing.
The standard rules still apply, but as above, set your expectations: Delays are inevitable.
First, make sure you’re eligible to renew your U.S. passport by mail. That means you:
- Have your most recent passport in your possession
- Your most recent passport is not damaged
- Your passport was issued within the last 15 years and you were over the age of 16
- Had your current name on your passport or can provide name change documentation
If you’re eligible, you’ll need to fill out Form DS-82. Next, send the applications and necessary documentation to one of the addresses marked under the “Where Do I Mail This Application” section, located at the bottom. The only address exception is the expedited service address, so do not add the additional $60 fee for this service—it’s not available.