Summer is just around the corner and some of you are thinking about traveling abroad. You’ve asked me about the quickest way to get your passport. I have answers to your questions and a warning about companies taking your money for forms and services that shouldn’t cost you a dime.
How long does it take to get a passport right now?
Right now, it is taking about eight to 11 weeks for routine passport processing. You can pay $60 to expedite your request but even then, the wait is five to seven weeks. You should be leery of any company or website that says they can get you a passport faster.
Should you pay for passport expediting services?
Local passport acceptance facilities tell us they are seeing a lot of customers come in who have paid for passport forms online. Unfortunately, the forms they paid for are free on the state department’s website, travel.state.gov. Simply googling to find the best way to get a passport can be costly. At Govpassports.org you’ll find forms for a new passport called a DS-11.
But you’ll still have to go to a passport acceptance facility in person. The DS-11 and all passport forms are free.
If you have tickets to travel out of the country within 14 days, and you are just now realizing your passport is expiring or has expired, the only way to get one fast is by calling the National Passport Information Center to make an appointment at a passport agency.
In Houston, the passport agency is downtown inside the Mickey Leland building at 1919 Smith St. This expedited service will cost you $165 for your passport and a $60 fee to expedite the processing. That’s $225 total.
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You can pay more to a courier or private company to walk your application in, but you’ll pay a lot more for the same service you’d get doing it yourself.
The Bureau of Consular Affairs told us applicants will not receive their passports any faster through a courier company than they would by applying in person at a passport agency.
Full statement from the Bureau of Consular Affairs on passport expeditors:
Courier companies, also known as passport expeditors, are private companies that charge fees in order to submit applications on behalf of a customer. Courier companies charge additional fees for their services, and applicants are still required to appear in person at an acceptance facility if applying on the Form DS-11, even when using a courier service.
While many courier companies provide a valuable service, we advise applicants to practice due diligence by researching courier companies since they will have access to sensitive personal information and documents. In addition to standard consumer research, the Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce may be helpful resources.
Some companies may appear to be part of the U.S. government because they use logos that look like official government seals. These companies are not part of the U.S. government or government contractors and do not operate as a part of the U.S. Department of State.
Our website, travel.state.gov, has extensive information on how to apply for a passport, including information on costs, forms, and where to apply. All of our forms are available here - https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply/forms.html and do not cost anything to download or fill online.
Applicants will not receive their passports any faster through a courier company than they would by applying in person at a Passport Agency.
There are also private companies that have websites offering to assist customers in completing a passport application for a fee that is separate from the passport fee paid to the Department to process the application. The Department has no affiliation with these companies, and, like courier companies, we urge customers to carefully read and vet any website that offers passport services since they are providing them with sensitive personal information.
We encourage all Americans to plan far ahead when considering international travel. Routine passport processing can now take eight to eleven weeks. An expedited processing request costs $60, and expedited processing takes five to seven weeks. These timeframes cover from when an application arrives at a passport agency until we issue a passport.
Additional information on courier and expeditor companies is available on our website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/get-fast/courier-and-expeditor-companies.html