Of the more than 7,000 passport application acceptance facilities
located in the United States and its territories, the vast majority can
be found in local post offices. The U.S. Postal Service began offering
this services a few decades ago due to the significant increase in the
number of American citizens who were applying for their passports.
County clerks and other state and municipal goverment offices could not
handle the demand.
Just a few years ago, another
significant increase in the number of applications submitted occured
when the Western Hempisphere Travel Initiative was instituted. In 2015
alone, there were 15,556,216 passport books issued. That is a
1,468,875 difference from the 2014 figures. There is a total of more
than 125 million valid passports currently in circulation. If you plan
to join this group and get your passport for the first time or you need
a new one because your last one was issued more than 15 years
ago, there is a good change you will be applying at a post office.
Below are a few tips to guarantee that you get it done without a hitch.
Tip #1: Call First
We frequently receive correspondence from individuals who
visited a post office to submit a new passport application only to
discover they needed an appointment. Another reason that calling first is
recommended is because it is possible that the post office has
discontinued the service and no longer accepts passport application forms.
Unfortunately, the incredibly high demand has made it almost impossible
for acceptance facilities to keep up. Passport Services estimated more
than 17 million applications would be submitted this year. Recently,
that estimate has been update to more than 20 million. Add to that
the fact that the number of facilities has significantly decreased from 8,400 just a
few years ago to a little over 7,000 today. Given this situation, we
recommend you look for a walk-in passport office near you.
Tip #2: Choose Your Time Wisely
This tip is especially important for applicants who live in
large cities and plan to visit a really busy post office. Having an
appointment does not guarantee that you will be attended at that
exact time. You still may have to wait in line. Be sure to schedule
sufficient time in your day for this task. If possible, choose a time
when there is less traffic. Contact the local facility for recommendations.
Tip #3: Double Check Your Documents
It can be really frustrating to arrive at the post office and
wait your turn only to be told that there is a problem with the application form, one of your
supporting documents or the passport photo. Be sure to verify the
current passport requirements and guarantee that your passport photo meets the specifications. Unacceptable photos is one of the principal reasons that passport applications are delayed.
Bonus Tip: Get Your Photo Taken at the Passport Office
Not every post office offers this service but there are a lot of them
that do. Ask if the post office where you plan to apply offers on-site
passport photo service. If they do, you can save yourself a trip to
some other location to get them taken.
Processing Time at Post Offices
Standard processing is estimated to take 4-6 weeks. Expect to
wait 6 weeks or, possibly, more during peak travel periods.
Starting in January and going through the summer months, demand is very
high and the total time to get a passport can increase significantly,
especially if there are any problems with your application form or
To ensure speedy processing of your passport application, you
can request expedited service at the post office where you apply. While
there is an additional fee of $60, it will decrease processing time to
only 2-3 weeks. You can even add an optional feeto your payment for overnight
delivery of your new passport.
If you need a passport faster, you will have to skip the post office and schedule an appointment at the nearest regional agency. What can you do if you don’t have time to visit a regional agency or the nearest one is too far away? You can apply through a registered passport expediter.