Face it, it's been a long time since you've needed your passport. But, if you're like many of our clients, you've already started making plans to travel in the near future. That means, it's time to check your passport!
What to check for
First, if you've had a name change (like you were married) during the last 18 months, you want to take care of that now. But what most of us need to check is the expiration date. Remember that the passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months from the time you return home. It's easy to forget about this until the last minute.
If you need a new passport, the State Department would normally easily handle this. But right now you'll need a lot of extra lead time. First, because of the pandemic (the State Department closed their offices just like the rest of us), there's a huge backlog of passport applications that the government needs to process. Processing times are at best 12 weeks and that's on an expedited basis. Second, appointments at passport agencies are still very difficult to get.
What can I do to expedite?
The fastest way to renew your passport is by visiting one of the 26 official passport centers or agencies. But finding appointments is difficult and you may have to travel quite a distance to secure an appointment. Appointments for life or death emergencies or urgent travel are available, but on a very limited basis. They only will give you an appointment if your international travel is within 72 hours. Appointments are released at midnight and so you may need to stay up late to reserve an appointment.
The most convenient way is to mail your passport and wait. But make sure you leave plenty of time before you leave on your trip. No passport, no leaving the US! Current wait times are about 18 weeks.
You can pay for expedited service for an extra $60. But right now that's no better than 12 weeks.