United States Postal Service Passport

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May 22, 2023

Are you planning to travel abroad and need to apply for a new passport or have your old one renewed? If so, then this is the article for you. 

The U.S. passport is an essential document you must have when going out of the country. Any problems with your passport may result in delays and inconvenience. 

Can you process your passport application through the Postal Service? If so, how? Can you renew your passport through the local post office? What other passport services can USPS provide? 

As you read this guide, you will understand the USPS passport application and processing through the Postal Service. This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to process your passport application through USPS. 

In addition, this write-up details other crucial information like processing time, requirements, and fees. 

Do you need to find the location of different post offices in the United States where you can process your U.S. passport application? You can visit FindPostOffice.org and access an online search tool that pinpoints the location of all 31,330 post offices in the United States including post offices in Alaska and Hawaii

Find the post office nearest to you using our website and search for the post office nearest you that offers passport services.

All of the Capabilities of a U.S. Post Office

The Postal Service has long been part of the American heritage. During the colonial period and after the American Revolution, the post office was one of the institutions authorized by Congress and helped communicate to a fledging country. 

Benjamin Franklin was the first postmaster general, laying the foundation for the United States Post Office. 

The United States Postal Service, or USPS, provides many services to people wanting reliable, speedy, and safe delivery of their mail and packages. 

However, aside from mail deliveries, you can also apply for a U.S. passport at your nearest post office. Read on to learn more about the USPS passport service. 

Passport Application Services

The Postal Service offers American citizens a one-stop shop for passport applications. You can head to your local post office to process your passport application in person. 

Documentation Required

You will need documentation if you are applying for the first time or having your passport renewed. You can check the U.S. Department of State website, Travel.State.gov, and get a list of documents you need to provide along with your application.  

Current Passport Processing Times

First-time passport applications and renewals take considerable time to process. There are two types of passport services available, and both have different processing times.

  • Expedited service: 5 to 7 weeks
  • Regular service: 8 to 11 weeks

The Postal Service conducts passport fairs to help process passport applications. Passport fairs give more people the opportunity to process their passports conveniently. 

Payment Methods

The following are available payment options for passport applications and renewals. Payments are sent along with your documents for processing.

U.S. Department of State (Passport)

  • Check (personal or cashiers)

For photo and execution fees

  • Cash
  • Credit card

Apply For A First-time Passport

You can follow these steps for first-time passport applicants. Note that you cannot apply through mail when it’s your first time applying for a passport. 

You must personally visit a postal office and use Form DS-11 if at least one of these categories is true:

  • You’re a first-time applicant for a U.S. passport
  • You’re under 16 years of age
  • You were under 16 when you got your first passport
  • Your previous passport was stolen, lost, or damaged
  • You got your previous passport more than 15 years ago. 

Step 1: Gather Documents Early

Apply for a new passport immediately after you plan any international travel. It is best if you gather your documents several months in advance. You must account for the processing times and check the latest U.S. Department of State service estimates.

You will need the necessary documents when you apply in person.

  • Unsigned application forms
  • Proof of identity and a photocopy of the front and back of that document
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship and a photocopy of the front and back of that document
  • Passport fees

Step 2: Prepare Your Application Package

When applying for an adult passport, you must complete the following documents. You will need to submit it in person at your local post office. 

If you need the address of your local post office, you can visit FindPostOffice.org. Your local postal office’s contact information, address, and operation times can be found here.

  • Complete the Form DS-11 passport application form on the State Department website. 
  • Once you’ve completed your application online, you need to print the application that you’ve filled out. 
  • Remember to refrain from signing your application without a witness. You can go to your postal office and sign your application in front of a postal employee or clerk as a witness.
  • Have your passport photo taken. Your photo should have been taken in the last six months.
  • Make a certified copy of your documents like your birth certificate that proves you are a U.S. citizen and other proof of identity documents.
  • Calculate and pay your fees through the approved payment methods. The Department of State’s application processing fees are listed in Step 4.

Step 3: Schedule An Appointment

After you’ve completed the application form and provided the necessary documents, you can schedule an appointment. You can get a schedule either through an online scheduler or a self-service kiosk.

Scheduling Online

Here are the steps you need to complete to schedule an appointment

  1. Go to an online scheduler, Schedule an Appointment.
  1. Choose the passport service you need, including the number of people (adults and minors) who need the appointments.
  1. Search for appointments by location, date, and time. You can either select the location or date first.
  1. Give your contact information and agree to the Terms and Conditions.
  1. To confirm your appointment, click “Review Your Appointment” and confirm.

Using A Self-service Kiosk

To schedule an appointment with a self-service kiosk, you can do the following:

  1. Head over to your post office with a self-service kiosk. 
  1. Touch the screen, click “Passport Scheduler” under the “Other Services ” in the kiosk menu, and choose the passport service you need. 
  2. Enter the number of people (adults and minors) who need the appointments.
  1. Select an available appointment time and date in a specific location. Agree to the Terms and Conditions.
  1. Review your contact information and select “Schedule Appointment” to confirm.
  1. Take your printed receipt with your confirmation number and appointment details.

Step 4: Pay Passport Acceptance and Processing Fees

First-time applicants have two types of basic fees they need to pay: the application acceptance fee and the application processing fee. 

If you’re a first-time applicant, you must also pay for the passport photos. You can also pay for expedited service if you want to receive your passport immediately. 

Application Acceptance Fees – Postal Service

You can pay this fee via money order or check, payable to “Postmaster.” You can also pay via debit or credit cards. 

  • $35.00 for the Post Office acceptance fee
  • $15.00 for the Post Office photo fee (if needed)

Application Processing Fees – Department of State

State Department fees are paid separately from fees charged by USPS. The State Department payment is sent along with your application package. 

You can pay the Post Office application fees with a personal, cashier’s certified, or traveler’s check. 

You can pay the State Department fees through money order payable to the “U.S. Department of State” at your local post office. State Department fees paid via debit or credit cards will not be accepted.

Application Status Updates

After submitting your application, you may need to wait up to four weeks before getting an “In Process” update. During this period, the mail facility receives your application, and your payment is processed. 

Your application will be scanned and sent to the State Department. You can check the update of your application on their website. 

Renew A Passport By Mail

The following is a step-by-step guide to renewing your passport by mail. You need to fit specific criteria to be eligible for renewal by mail. After you know if you are eligible, you can complete the Passport Renewal Application Form or DS-82 (U.S. Passport Renewal Application for Eligible Individuals).

Step 1: Check Your Eligibility To Renew By Mail

You can renew your passport via mail if your answer is “yes” to all of these statements:

  1. You still have your previous passport to submit with your application.
  1. Your old passport is undamaged, aside from the normal wear and tear 
  1. You got your passport when you were 16 or older
  1. Your passport book was issued within the last 15 years
  1. Your passport has your current name or has the supporting documents if you had a name change

Step 2: Prepare Your Application Package

When you apply for a passport renewal, it is best to do it early, as some countries require foreign passports to be valid for six months before entry. Now that you’re sure you’re eligible for renewal by mail, do the following steps listed below:

Fill Out Form DS-82

When you fill out your Form DS-82, here is what you need to do. 

  • If you have no Social Security number, submit a signed statement declaring under penalty of perjury that you have not been issued a Social Security number by the SSA (Social Security Administration).
  • Complete all pages of the form, then sign and date it.
  • Print your form single-sided. The State department does not accept double-sided forms.

For more information about this form, visit the State Department’s website. 

Submit Your Most Recent U.S. Passport

After completing your DS-82 form, mail your printed application and passport. The State Department will return your old passport through a separate mail. Still, you must ensure that you fit all the criteria listed above to make you eligible for renewal by mail. 

Include Name Change Documents (If Applicable)

Suppose you have gone through a name change, so your current name now differs from the name on your recent U.S. passport. In that case, you need to provide the following certified copy of legal name change documents:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce decree
  • Court-ordered document detailing your name change

You must send these documents along with your application. You will receive your name change document in a separate mail from your new passport. 

Provide A Photo

Attach a photograph to your application. Ensure that your photo meets the requirements stated in the application. 

  • Staple your photo to the application. 
  • Use four staples vertically at the corners of your photo as close to the edge as possible.
  • Do not bend or crease your photo.
  • Do not wear eyeglasses when having your photo taken. You can wear one only if you have a signed letter from your doctor.

Calculate the Passport Fees

Here are the following passport fees you have to pay for your renewal. You can send payments via checks or money orders payable to the U.S. Department of State. Do not send cash through the mail.

  • Passport book $130
  • Passport card $30
  • Passport book and card $160

You can expedite your application by paying an additional expedited fee of $60. 

How to Calculate Fees

You can calculate all the fees you must pay with the help of your local post office personnel. Ensure that your application form is complete and all necessary documents are in your application package. 

Step 3: Mail Your Renewal Application

The State Department recommends using USPS delivery tracking to mail your passport renewal application. You can use any of the following USPS services.

  • USPS Priority Mail Express service for overnight deliveries
  • USPS Priority Mail service with delivery confirmation
  • USPS Priority Mail service with signature confirmation

Step 4: Follow Your Application Progress

You can go to USPS Tracking to monitor your package status if you use a USPS delivery tracking service for your application process. 

  • The process may take up to four weeks after you submit your application before you will get an “In Process” status update
  • After five to six weeks from the application submission date, you can check the processing status on the State Department’s website.

Always check the State Department website to get more information about current processing times for passport applications and renewals. 

What You Need to Check In Your Application Status

You can check if your name is spelled correctly, including suffixes and hyphens. You should also check your date of birth in the correct format (MM/DD/YYYY) and the last four digits of your Social Security number. 

What Your Application Status Means

  • Not Available: You get this update when your application is still in transit, but your application is delivered to a mail facility, entered into the system, and your payment is processed. 
  • Arrived: You get this update when your application has reached the passport acceptance facility. The process may take up to two weeks before the status changes to “In Process.”
  • In Process: You get this update when your application is under review. The length of time for the “In Process” status depends on your chosen service and the Department of State’s current processing times
  • Approved: Once the Department of State has finished reviewing your application and everything is in order, you will get an “Approved” status, and printing of your passport begins. 
  • Mailed: This status means the State Department has mailed your new passport to the address you have provided in your application. The State Department will send your supporting documents and old passports separately. You may need to wait up to 8 weeks after you receive your new U.S. passport to receive your submitted documents.  

Expedited Passport Delivery

You can expedite the delivery of your new passport to your specified address through USPS Priority Mail Express You can expedite the delivery of your new passport to your specified address through USPS Priority Mail Express whether you are from major states like California, Texas, and New York or less populated states such as Wyoming, Vermont, and Delaware. You only need to pay an additional $18.32 for one- to two-day delivery of your new passport through the mail.

You must include the expedited mail delivery fee with your passport fee for fast return shipping.

Get A New Passport Faster In Emergencies and Special Cases

There are two main instances where you can get a new passport quickly: life-and-death emergencies and urgent travel services. The State Department recognizes these two situations and allows a faster passport approval process than routine service. 

Life-or-Death Emergency

You have a qualified life-or-death situation if you need to travel outside of the U.S. within three business days and your immediate family member abroad:

  • Is dying or in hospice care 
  • Has a life-threatening illness or injury
  • Has died

Note that your immediate family member must be a parent, spouse, child, sibling, grandparent, or legal guardian.

Urgent Travel In Less Than 10 Weeks

When you need to travel internationally within 14 calendar days or need a foreign visa for an urgent trip within 28 calendar days, you can schedule an appointment with the State Department. 

You can call its hotline at 1-877-487-2778 to make an appointment. They’re open from Monday to Friday. (Note that they don’t accept walk-ins) 

  • Monday and Wednesday: 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM
  • Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM

Renew Your Passport Fast

You can have a faster renewal process when you pay an added fee for expedited service. Mail it with Priority Mail Express, and you can get your new passport within 10 weeks. 

  • Expedited application processing fee: $60
  • 1- to 2-day return delivery fee: $18.32 

Note that you should write “EXPEDITE” outside the envelope when you want a faster passport renewal. 

Passports For Minors Under 16

There are special requirements for passport applications for minors under 16. 

  • Both parents or guardians must authorize the issuance of a passport to their child. They must accompany their child during the application process.
  • The minor must have evidence of U.S. citizenship
  • Parents or guardians must have proof of relationship with the minor

Note that a minor’s passport is only valid for five years. Also, you cannot use Form DS-82 to renew your child’s passport. 

State Department Travel Resources

The U.S. Department of State provides travel resources to anyone that needs a passport or visa services. Also, these resources are good sources of information that you will need when traveling in and out of the country. 

U.S. State Department Website

  • Department of State Passport Website: travel.state.gov 
  • National Passport Information Center: 

Contact number: 1-877-487-2778

Email: NPIC@state.gov: 

  • Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) website: step.state.gov 
  • Traveler’s Checklist to get Travel Advisory and Alerts for the countries you will be visiting at travel.state.gov/destination. 
  • Contact your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for emergencies overseas: 

From the U.S. and Canada:   1-888-407-4747

From Overseas: +1 202-501-4444

Lost or Stolen Passports

Suppose you lose your passport, or it gets stolen. In that case, you should report it immediately to the U.S. State Department to protect you from identity theft. You can report this through the following methods:

  1. Online: You can visit the State Department website and report that you have lost your passport or it got stolen. You will have to fill out an online form to complete this process. 
  1. Mail: You can report your lost or stolen passport through mail. You must complete the DS-11 form and send it to your passport agency. 
  1. While applying for a new passport, you must complete Form DS-64 with your DS-11 application. 

You must submit these forms at your local post office when applying for a renewal. If you are in the United States, you can head to your passport agency or center. If you are outside of the country, you can go to your U.S. embassy or consulate. 

FAQs

  1. How long does USPS take to deliver a passport?

The delivery time depends on your location, your purchased mail service, and the expected passport processing time set by the State Department. 

Because of delays, the State Department suggests waiting 12 to 18 weeks for you to receive your new passport. 

  1. Does USPS provide passports?

USPS acts as a passport acceptance facility. Your application is processed at the Post Office before it is mailed to the U.S. Department of State. USPS does not issue, create or provide passports. Only the State Department is authorized to provide travel passports to citizens of the United States.

You can’t also pick up passports from post offices. These documents are mailed directly to the recipient by the State Department.  

  1. If I already have a passport book, can I use the DS-82 to get a passport card?

Yes, you can apply for a passport card as a renewal by mail on two conditions: you have a passport, and you are eligible to use Form DS-82. You can visit the State Department for more information about the U.S. passport card. 

  1. Can I renew my passport if it is still valid?

Yes, you can renew your passport even if it’s not expired and it’s not lost or stolen. You will go through the renewal process provided by the State Department. It is best to renew your passport if it has a few months of validity before you embark on a trip abroad. 

  1. Can I renew my passport if it is expired?

Yes, you can renew an expired passport if it has been issued within the last 15 years, the passport is issued in your name, you have the passport in your possession, it is not damaged, and you are 16 years or older when it was issued. 

In cases of a name change, you will need to provide proof of the legality of the name change, like court orders. 

  1. Can I send multiple renewal applications in one envelope?

You can send multiple renewal applications in one envelope, provided it is a family member or spouse. You must pay for the applications in one check or money order. Remember to ensure you’ve paid the correct fees for multiple applications.

  1. I am behind in child support. Can I get a passport?

The State Department won’t issue you a passport if you’re behind in child support payments of $2,500 or more. You can contact the appropriate state child support enforcement agency for questions about child support arrears.

  1. How will you send my passport and supporting documents?

After the Department of State issues your new passport, it will mail your new passport to you directly. The agency will also return your supporting documents in a separate mail. 

However, due to delays, the State Department suggests that you allow 12 -18 weeks for your new passport to arrive. 

  1. Will I get a new passport number when I renew my passport?

You’ll get a new number when you get your new passport. It will have a different number from your previous passport. 

  1. What should I do if I haven’t yet received my passport?

If you have yet to receive your passport after eight weeks, contact the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778.