How to check passport application status

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Traveling, whether for work or pleasure, usually inspires a combination of excitement and apprehension. Most of us look forward to a new adventure, but preparing for that adventure takes some planning, and that’s where the fear comes in — particularly when that trip takes us overseas. One of the critical elements of planning is making sure you have a current passport, whether that means applying for a new passport or replacing a lost passport. Thankfully, after you’ve applied, checking your passport application status is quick and easy. Here’s what you need to know.

Checking your passport application status online

The U.S. Department of State makes it easy to find out your passport application status online. You can visit the Online Passport Status System and submit your personal information to locate your application. Make sure you have the following information available:
  • Your last name (hyphenate as appropriate), including suffixes (Smith III, Warren Jr., etc.) 
  • Date of birth (MM/DD/YYYY)
  • Last four digits of your Social Security Number
Before you can input your personal information, you will need to read and agree to the Department of State’s Privacy and Computer Fraud and Abuse Acts Notices and Disclaimers.  If you receive a “Not Found” message, your application is in transit to a passport agency for processing. If you receive an “In Process” message, your application has been received and is under review. If your status says your passport has been mailed, but you have not received it after ten business days, you need to contact the National Passport Information Center to fill out a form stating you haven’t received it. The Department of State will then follow up with you regarding a replacement. If you do not fill out and submit this form within 90 days of when your passport was sent to you, you will have to reapply and pay all passport application fees again. 

Calling to check on your passport application status

To check on your passport application status by phone, you can call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 or 1-888-874-7793 (TDD/TTY). The center is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 10 pm Eastern Time. The office is closed on all federal holidays. When you call, the customer service representative will need the following personal information: 
  • Your full name
  • Your address
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security Number
Due to privacy laws, only you can call about your own passport; no one can call on your behalf. Parents and guardians can call on behalf of their minor children. Customer service representatives will provide the same status updates as provided above — not found, in process or already mailed. They cannot provide an estimated date of when your passport will be processed and sent to you. 

How long does it take to get your passport?

Previously, receiving your passport usually took between six and eight weeks from the time you turned in your application. However, following the slowdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department of State is operating in a limited capacity, with only 16 passport agencies and centers currently processing passport applications. Therefore, expect it to take two to three times (or more) longer for your passport application to be reviewed and processed.  Unfortunately, whether you check online or call the National Passport Information Center, the Department of State will not provide an estimated date for when you will receive your passport. 

Tips to speed up your application

Expedited service for a passport application currently is limited to anyone who needs to travel internationally within 72 hours for life-or-death emergencies only. These are defined as serious illnesses, injuries or deaths in your immediate family. Immediate family members are defined as follows: 
  • Parent
  • Legal guardian
  • Child
  • Spouse
  • Sibling
  • Grandparent
To apply for a passport under these conditions, you must call and make an appointment at a passport agency or center using one of the following phone numbers: 
  • 1-877-487-2778/1-888-874-7793 (TTY/TDD) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays
  • 202-647-4000 during non-business hours
Once regular expedited service resumes, you can call (see numbers above) or go online to make an appointment at a passport agency. This option is recommended only for those traveling internationally in less than three weeks. For your appointment, bring the following: 
  • Government-issued photo I.D.
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship
  • Marriage license if requesting a name change
  • U.S. Passport Application (Form DS-11)
  • U.S. Passport Renewal Application (Form DS-82) (only if renewing a previous passport)
  • Two passport photos
  • Passport fees including the $60 expedite fee 
  • Proof of international travel 
Do not sign your passport application forms; you will need to do this in person.  You also can go to a local passport acceptance facility (call to see if you need an appointment); however, this is only available to those who need a new passport, not a renewal. You will need to bring the same documents and fees as those listed above. This option is recommended only for those traveling internationally in the next three to eight weeks.  If you are renewing a passport, you should mail your Form DS-82, previous passport and other supporting documents along with your passport fees, including the $60 expedite fee, to the appropriate mailing address listed on the application form. Clearly label your mailing envelope with “EXPEDITE” on the outside.  Regardless of how you apply for an expedited passport, the Department of State’s goal is to process your application within eight business days. As such, you should receive your passport in approximately two to three weeks. 

Bottom line

Checking your passport application status is a quick and easy process, whether going online or calling the National Passport Information Center. Just make sure you have your personal information handy to facilitate the process. To allow time for your application to be received and entered into the system, wait a minimum of 10 days before you start checking on your application status. With patience, you’ll soon have your passport and be ready to start exploring the world.  Featured image by Nuangthong/Shutterstock.

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