USPS Tracking of Passport Applications

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November 9, 2023

Whether soaking in foreign cultures, marveling at iconic historical landmarks, or indulging in exotic cuisines, having a passport lets you cross international borders and bask in the joy of global exploration.

The good news is that getting a passport today is relatively straightforward, thanks to the United States Postal Service (USPS), its network of over 31,000 facilities, and its streamlined processes and efficient services.

However, sending your passport application through USPS rather than directly to passport agencies may introduce problems. For one, how can you ensure your application safely reaches the U.S. Department of State (DOS)?

Hint: You can track your passport application status! This article tackles USPS and its role in the passport application process and the things you may want to know and can expect when sending a passport application in person and through the mail.

Are you ready to enjoy the benefits of a valid U.S. passport? Visit FindPostOffice.org to find your area’s most convenient post office locations that offer passport services.

USPS Tracking®: How Do I Track My Passport Package?

Tracking your passport application is crucial to stay informed about its status and whereabouts. USPS offers an alternative, convenient, and user-friendly tracking tool to help you keep tabs on your package’s journey. 

Whether you’re eagerly awaiting your newly issued passport or sending off your application, here’s how you can track your passport package:

  1. Visit the USPS website: To get started, head to the USPS website at USPS.com. The USPS website is your gateway to various postal services, including tracking your passport application.
  2. Click on “Track a Package”: Once on the USPS website, look for the “Search or Track Packages” field or visit the USPS tracking page.
  3. Enter your tracking number: Enter your passport application’s unique identifier or tracking number into the designated field on the tracking page.
  4. Click on “Track”: After entering the tracking number, hit the “Track” button, and the system will display the real-time status of your passport package.

What Does My Tracking Number Look Like?

Your USPS tracking number is your passport’s unique identifier during its transit. It usually consists of a combination of alphanumeric characters. 

Depending on the USPS service responsible for delivering your passport application, your tracking number may look like one of the following:

ServiceTracking Number Format
USPS Tracking9400 1000 0000 0000 0000 00
USPS Priority Mail9205 5000 0000 0000 0000 00
USPS Certified Mail9407 3000 0000 0000 0000 00
USPS Collect on Delivery (COD) Hold for Pickup9303 3000 0000 0000 0000 00
USPS Global Express Guaranteed82 000 000 00
USPS Priority Mail Express InternationalEC 000 000 000 US
USPS Priority Mail Express9270 1000 0000 0000 0000 00EA 000 000 000 US
USPS Priority Mail International
CP 000 000 000 US
USPS Registered Mail
9208 8000 0000 0000 0000 00
USPS Signature Confirmation9202 1000 0000 0000 0000 00

Where Do I Find My Tracking Number?

You can find your USPS tracking number in several places, depending on how you shipped your passport application or how the DOS mailed your newly issued passport:

  • Your shipping receipt: Whenever you send a parcel through the post office, you’ll receive a shipping receipt. This document will include the service type, postage costs, additional surcharges like passport fees, and the tracking number.
  • Your sales receipt with insurance: If you purchased insurance for your shipment to protect it from loss and damages, the shipping receipt will also include the tracking number.
  • USPS email confirmation: You’ll receive a confirmation email when you send your passport application through USPS, particularly if you purchased postage on its website. This email usually contains the tracking number.
  • The parcel’s shipping label: If your chosen USPS service includes USPS tracking, such as informed delivery, the tracking number is typically at the bottom peel-off portion of the shipping label.

How Long Does USPS Take to Deliver Passport?

The processing time for passport applications is generally around 10 to 13 weeks and 7 to 9 if you expedite it. However, this window doesn’t include delivery times.

According to the state department, it may take two weeks for passport applications to arrive by mail at a passport acceptance center. It will take another 14 business days for your issued passport to arrive at your doorstep.

Will I Be Notified When My Passport Is Mailed?

Whether you applied in person or through USPS, you can stay informed about your passport application’s status by subscribing to the DOS’ email notifications.

To receive timely updates on your passport’s progress, you must provide the following information:

  • Your last name, including any suffixes if applicable
  • Your birth date using the MM/DD/YYYY format
  • The last four digits of your Social Security number (SSN)

Alternatively, you can contact the DOS’ National Passport Information Center by calling its primary number at 1-877-487-2778 and its TDD/TTY teletype services at 1-888-874-7793.

Moreover, you can receive live updates on your passport by tracking it with USPS. 

Visit the USPS website, call its customer service hotline, or visit your local post office. You’ll easily find postal service facilities by using FindPostOffice.org’s locator tool.

What Should I Do if I Haven’t Received My Passport?

In rare cases where your passport may take longer to arrive, don’t panic. If you haven’t received your passport within the expected timeframe, there are steps to resolve the situation promptly:

  • Check your passport’s status: The first thing to do is visit the DOS website and use the online passport status system to check whether your passport is on its way. You can also use USPS’ tracking tool to determine the whereabouts of your passport package.
  • Contact the National Passport Information Center: If you haven’t received your passport after an extended period, contact the state department. Call 1-877-487-2778 or 1-888-874-7793 for TDD/TTY teletype service access.
  • Make an in-person appointment: While some passport centers allow walk-ins, you must schedule a passport appointment for others. Fortunately, USPS offers appointment scheduling services.

What Is the Role of the United States Postal Service With Passports?

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is an invaluable partner in ensuring seamless and efficient first-time and passport renewal application processes. But considering that the Department of State (DOS) is the only entity that issues passports in the U.S., what role does USPS play? 

Here’s a closer look at USPS’ involvement in the passport application process:

  • Accepts passport applications: Since 1975, USPS has used its extensive retail network of over 31,000 facilities across the U.S. to receive passport applications, including first-time and minors applications and renewals, on behalf of the DOS.
  • Ensures correct application documents: USPS ensures all supporting documents, like Form DS-11, are correct before submitting them to the State Department. Doing so helps applicants avoid potential delays and errors in their passport processing.
  • Submits documents to the DOS: USPS doesn’t issue passports. Instead, it acts as a liaison for the state department, receiving applications and delivering them to the latter for processing.
  • Offers passport services: USPS provides various passport-related products and services, including taking DOS-authorized passport photos and letting you schedule an appointment with passport acceptance facilities.
  • Provides tracking options: While USPS can deliver your passport application to the DOS, you cannot retrieve your passport directly from your local post office. However, USPS does let you monitor your passport status through its tracking tool.

What Does a U.S. Passport Book or Card Look Like?

A U.S. passport comes in two distinct forms: the passport book and the passport card. Each is tailored to specific travel needs and destinations. 

In 2021, the DOS began introducing the Next Generation Passport (NGP). While these new passports look similar to previous iterations, with a navy-blue color with gold accents, NGPs’ most recognizable feature is their polycarbonate data page with laser-engraved passport photos.

Other features of the U.S. passport book include the following:

  • Alphanumeric passport numbering instead of the 9-digit number on previous passports
  • Regular-sized passport books have 26 visa pages, while large ones have 50
  • An endorsement page on the third leaf of the book
  • A QR (quick response) code located on the back of the passport book

Introduced in 2008, the U.S. passport card is a wallet-sized travel document with 5” x 3.5” dimensions, the same as a driver’s license. On the card, you’ll see the following:

  • The words “United States of America” and “Passport Card” under it on the card’s front face
  • A blue background with an image of the Great Seal of the United States
  • A passport card number that starts with the letter C followed by eight numbers

Passport books and cards are your ticket to exploring the world outside the U.S. The passport book lets you travel by land, air, and sea to and from any destination outside of the country.

However, you can only use passport cards for land and sea travel to re-enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. Fortunately, you can apply for a passport book and card by checking the appropriate boxes when you submit your passport application.

For more information on passport book and card requirements, access the DOS website at Travel.State.gov. Alternatively, you can visit a post office and access a self-service kiosk, which you can find using FindPostOffice.org’s USPS location finder.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Passport?

According to the State Department, you can expect an average processing time of 10 to 13 weeks. 

An expedited service can reduce your wait time to 7 to 9 weeks. However, getting your passport in hand requires patience, as processing times can vary based on different factors.

While the DOS strives to ensure efficient processing for all applicants, the time of year and unforeseen events, such as natural disasters, may impact processing times. 

Additionally, the clock for passport processing times only begins ticking on the day the state department receives your application, not the day you mail your application. If you’re traveling within six weeks, the DOS recommends expediting your application.

Application Status Updates

Throughout the application process, it’s natural to wonder about the status of your application. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of State offers an online passport status system, regardless if you applied through USPS or in person.

That said, you may not see an immediate status update regarding your passport application, as it may take two weeks for the DOS system to reflect the latest information.

Alternatively, you can use USPS’ convenient tracking tool to monitor and receive updates on your application’s process, approval, and delivery. Visit the USPS website at USPS.com to begin tracking.

How Can I Leave Delivery Instructions?

If you wish to make specific delivery arrangements for your passport package, USPS provides a convenient service called “Delivery Instructions.” You can use this service to instruct USPS where to leave your passport or send it to a different address.

While USPS’ Delivery Instructions service lets you pick up mail items from your local post office, the DOS prohibits you from doing so with passports. Nonetheless, here are the steps to leave delivery instructions:

  1. Check eligibility: Not all packages are eligible for USPS Delivery Instructions, so check if your mailpiece qualifies.
  2. Visit the USPS website: Go to the USPS website, enter your passport application’s tracking number, and access the tracking results page.
  3. Change delivery instructions: Once you have the results for your package, look for the “Change Delivery Instructions” link and click on it.
  4. Submit your request: Follow the prompts to leave your delivery instructions. If the link isn’t available, your package may not be eligible for this service due to specific criteria such as a Delivery Signature request, military address, or insurance exceeding $500.

If you have concerns about leaving specific instructions, contact UPS’s domestic customer care hotline at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) or visit your local post office. You can find your area’s most convenient USPS facilities with FindPostOffice.org.

Additionally, UPS provides TTY (TeleType) or TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) options for individuals with speech, visual, and hearing impairments. For TDD/TTY access, visit the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) page.

FAQs

  1. How many passport documents will I receive?

Depending on the type of passport document you applied for, you may receive multiple mailings from the DOS. For instance, you may receive two separate mailings when you apply for a passport book and three envelopes if you apply for a passport book and a passport card.

  1. Why does my status say “not available” after it was already “in process”?

If your status shows as “not available” after it was previously “in process,” it indicates that the State Department’s Online Status Passport System is experiencing technical issues.

  1. Why does my status say “mailed” if I just applied?

If you’ve recently received a new passport in the last 180 days and are applying for a new one due to changes or corrections needed, your application status may show as “Mailed.” This is particularly common when using Form DS-5504 for updating your existing passport.

  1. Why does my status say “in process” after it was already “approved”?

If your passport application status has changed from “Approved” to “In Process,” it typically means the DOS’ final quality control review has found a problem with your passport application.

References

  1. U.S. Passports – The Basics
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/U-S-Passports-The-Basics
  2. Passport Application Acceptance Operations
    https://www.uspsoig.gov/reports/audit-reports/passport-application
  3. USPS Schedule an Appointment
    https://tools.usps.com/rcas.htm
  4. USPS Passports
    https://www.usps.com/international/passports.htm
  5. The Next Generation Passport: What You Need to Know as a U.S. Traveler
    https://www.us-passport-service-guide.com/next-generation-passport
  6. Passport Card vs Passport Book
    https://visaguide.world/passport/us/passport-card-vs-passport-book/
  7. Great Seal of the United States
    https://www.britannica.com/topic/Great-Seal-of-the-United-States
  8. Passport Processing Times
    https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply/
  9. U.S. Passport Application Status
    https://passportstatus.state.gov/
  10. USPS Tracking
    https://tools.usps.com/go/TrackConfirmAction_input
  11. Informed Delivery by USPS
    https://www.usps.com/manage/informed-delivery.htm
  12. USPS Delivery Instructions™ – The Basics
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/USPS-Delivery-Instructions-The-Basics
  13. Do TTY, TDD, and TT mean the same thing?
    https://www.washington.edu/doit/do-tty-tdd-and-tt-mean-same-thing
  14. Contact USPS
    https://www.usps.com/help/contact-us.htm
  15. TRS by State and Territories
    https://www.fcc.gov/general/trs-state-and-territories
  16. DOS Application Status
    https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/need-passport/
  17. Contact U.S. Passports
    https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/contact-us/passports.html