Even though international travel may not be on the horizon, it is worth checking your passport expiration date to make sure you don’t have any issues when you book your flight. You must have at least six months of validity in your passport to travel internationally. This is a requirement for many countries.
COVID-19 has made processing times longer than usual so it pays to plan. If your passport expires in the next 12 months, it is time to renew it. You can renew your passport anytime, not just before it expires. This article will tell you everything you need to know to renew your passport in the event of a coronavirus pandemic.
Although this information was accurate at the time of publication, we recommend that you check the U.S. Department of State’s most recent updates before renewing your passport.
How to renew your passport during the pandemic
If you are located in Canada or the U.S., the standard passport renewal process is via mail-in form. U.S. applicants can use this method if they have their passport in their possession (it must not be damaged), were issued their passport when they were 16 years old or older, and received their passport with their current name. You can still apply for your passport by mail if you have recently changed your name. However, legal documentation must be provided to prove it.
If you have met all the criteria, you are eligible to submit your mail-in request.
- A completed form.
- The most recent U.S. passport.
- If necessary, name change documents
- Passport photo that meets the requirements. The photo must be stapled to your application using one vertical staple per corner.
- The fee can be paid by a check or money order. (See pricing here.
After you have gathered all the documents, follow these instructions to mail your application as provided by the U.S. Department of State. You can check the status online or by calling a hotline.
If you do not meet these criteria, you will need to apply in person for a passport at an acceptance center. If you are located outside the U.S. or Canada, you will need to apply in person for your passport renewal at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy.
What is the average time it takes to renew a passport in a pandemic?
You can expect to receive your passport by mail if you renew during the pandemic. This is an increase from the normal four to six weeks.
Can you speed up passport renewals during the pandemic?
You can expedite the renewal of your passport for a fee but only if there is an immediate need. You can renew your passport in person if you are in a life-or-death situation. This will allow you to receive your passport within three days. In the pre-pandemic era, passports could be obtained the same day by visiting certain passport offices. However, that is no longer the case.
You can renew your passport at any acceptance facility if you have urgent travel plans. It will be delivered within three business days.
You can apply in person, or expedite your mail renewal if your international trip falls within 4-10 weeks. In this case, your passport will be delivered within 4-6 weeks.
These expedited services will cost extra. Not all acceptance facilities are available for walk-in visits. You might need to schedule an appointment.
You might want to apply for a new passport, or passport renewal if you are planning on traveling in 2021. Here are the most current methods to obtain a passport if you don’t know where to start.
Option 1: Passport Renewals with us
The State Department estimates that this option will take between 4-12 weeks to process. Our usual services, which typically take between 1-10 business days, are currently not available.
- A passport specialist will be available to you so that your paperwork can be submitted correctly.
- We can help you with your passport photo and 2-way shipping from and to the Passport Agency.
- We will keep track of the progress of your application, and notify you when it ships back.
- We can help you get a passport in person if the government has delays. This is quite common during a pandemic.
Option 2: Renewal of, new, child, or lost passports via mail
The good news is that the State Department offers expedited and regular passport processing by mail for lost, new and child passports. The State Department website has the necessary forms. Regular processing can take up to 18 weeks, while expedited processing can take up to 12 weeks. You should be flexible if your passport does not arrive within the timeframe. This option is available to individuals who require renewing their passports.
Option 3: Individuals traveling in 12 weeks or less
Some in-person appointments are allowed by the Passport Agencies, but most are reserved for people who are experiencing a life-or-death emergency overseas. There are a limited number of appointments available for Americans who require a passport, but they do not have an emergency. However, there are significant restrictions and most people are having difficulty getting an appointment. Many times, the passport agencies report that there are no appointments available for more than two weeks. Travelers have reported that they can make appointments at midnight because of canceled appointments from the previous day. You can check if there are any other options at midnight EDT if you are unable to get an appointment.
No matter which option you choose, remember that many people are trying to obtain passports at the moment and the Passport Agencies do not have enough staff. The processing times can be slow and are only estimates. Apply for your passport today with an Emergency Passport in Houston if you want to travel this year.
Texas Passport Center offers all passport services and several passport processing options depending on your situation. Whether it’s your new passport, or you need to renew passport in Texas, our professionals are well versed in the details of the passport application process.