If you apply for a passport through your local passport office, you can expect it to take 4 to 6 weeks before you receive your documentation (more on how long it takes to get a US passport). It seems like in this modern era, you should be able to get your passport within a few days.
While it is possible to receive a passport that quickly through expedited passport services, most people still wait the 4 to 6 weeks for two key reasons:
1. Your passport is a powerful and official form of personal identification.
Your passport is on the same level as your driver’s license, your credit cards, and your Social Security card. If any of those documents got stolen, you would report the theft immediately and take the necessary actions to protect your identity.
Your passport has the same level of power, and perhaps even more, because your passport allows you to move between countries.
The government takes passports very seriously and makes sure that every passport that is issued is given to its rightful owner. Your background must be carefully checked and your records verified before you can receive a passport because there are a lot of restrictions on who can receive a passport.
Additionally, you still have to go in person to apply for a passport in most cases to prove your identity. Put simply, the length of time that it takes to receive a passport is a direct reflection of how powerful and important your passport is.
2. More people are applying for passports all the time.
The other main reason it takes so long to receive a passport is that so many people are applying for them. Way back in 1980, 3.2 million passports were issued. In 2010, that number jumped up to 13.8 million passports, according to Fox News.
Americans are becoming more interested in international travel and the freedom offered by a US passport. In fact:
- Before September 11, 2001, about 50 million Americans had valid passports
- As of 2011, there were more than 102 million valid US passports
- That means that about 33% of Americans have a valid US passport, the highest percentage in history.
Needless to say, passport offices are having a hard time keeping up with the demand. Especially given how carefully passport applications are considered, it’s almost a miracle that it only takes 4 to 6 weeks to receive a US passport.
If you have an international trip coming up and your passport is expired, you’re probably asking yourself, “Is there any way I can expedite my passport?” Fortunately, there is! You can have a valid US passport in hand within a matter of days rather than weeks. Contact us today to learn more about how long it takes to get a passport with our expedited services.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.