Avoid The Passport Renewal Wait Game
Renewing your passport can be a somewhat stressful process. After all, you’ve got to juggle lots of little forms and assorted bits of papers just to hopefully get what you need to the clerks. The fiddly bits are where the problems come in such as when you find out that you’ve filled out a form in the wrong ink or that they can’t accept a particular form because it needed to have this amount of information written in in a particular way. In short, bureaucracy remains bureaucracy no matter where you go. This can end up accruing several levels of wait time at all stages of the process though. Most of us have busy lives and that tends to make the prospect of trying to do the footwork to get our passports renewed more than a little annoying. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to avoid the waiting game in this case as long as you’re willing to stay alert or make the effort to be properly prepared. Just be prepared for there being at least a little waiting.
Renew By Mail
A good strategy to more or less skip any intense waiting it technically to get ahead of the game and renew before your passport expires. You can actually do this through the mail. It requires a particular form that you can easily look up. Providing you meet the requirements, you can print out and fill the form for mailing and take both it and your passport to a nearby post office. It is important to note that you’ll likely want to favor the largest local post office in this matter unless you know for a fact that another provides passport services as well. Most post offices will provide obvious lines or easily obtainable directions to help you figure out where you need to go to drop off your form and passport to be sent to the Department of State. Afterwards, you need only wait for the form and passport to be received and properly proceeded before your passport will arrive in the mail renewed and ready to use.
Renewing In Person
Sometimes things change in life or we become a little more forgetful than we’d like to admit and allow a passport to become entirely out of a date. After a certain point, we have to go directly to an office to get the work done whether we want to or not. That means your best hope is to ensure that you are aware of the requirements before you get to the passport office and have everything in order. Print out the required form and make sure that you fill it out in black ink to avoid any processing difficulties. Some offices will turn away any forms that appear to not use black ink. Additionally, make sure to have your fee ready. Passport offices will generally have a clear posting on what will be required to pay for the passport itself and any additional fees. Depending on where you go, there may be a processing fee. Once your form and fees are in order, double check that your passport photo meets the required guidelines to avoid being turned away as well. Taking all of these steps will help ensure that you only need to wait once in an office and the rest can be done at home.
An important thing to note is that one part of waiting that you can’t skip is simply the amount of time it takes for the Department of State to get to everything. Basic processing can take up to roughly six weeks in most cases. That’s why you typically want to make sure that you’re renewing your passport well in advance of any traveling that you need to do. You do have an option, in both cases for renewal, for expediting the processing. This will typically reduce the wait time to roughly three weeks. It is important to note that expedited processing requires an additional fee. As of the time of writing this, that extra fee is roughly $60 in the United States. This is a particularly good option if travel is coming up as more unexpected event in the future, but one that you still have a little time to prepare for despite things. It does severely reduce the amount of waiting that you need to worry about overall and can be particularly helpful if you just want to get everything related to your passport over and done with as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, there’s no true way to entirely eliminate a bit of waiting from renewing your passport. You’ll be waiting at home, in line, or in both at different points in the process. Expediting processing and keeping all of your paperwork in order can help a lot for minimizing your overall wait times though. We also encourage you to research peak hours at a passport office and try to get in to process paperwork in the slower hours to minimize waiting. Remembering all this should leave you plenty of time to enjoy life even as you prepare to travel.