The novel pandemic Covid-19 brought a boat-load of changes to travel plans in the U.S, passport operations not excluded. The U.S State Department minimized its passport operations over the past few months. This was done to protect its workforce and avoid the spread of the coronavirus.
This translated to a reduction in staffing and restriction of in-person services. It also led to a temporary deferment of expedited passport processing. The suspension of expedited passport affects customers renewing by mail or at an acceptance facility.
These reforms are all in a bid to protect customers and staff. It will also make the application process as convenient as possible in the wake of the pandemic.
In light of current global conditions and Covid-19 developments, the United States Department of State is commencing passport operations resumption in phases.
As per the Passport Agency, Printing and mailing visa books to clients must be done from passport agencies and centers. This to protect customers’ personal information and sustain the credibility of the application process.
The Department of State encourages passport applicants to send their applications via mail when possible. This is because it is a safe and contactless alternative. Applicants can send applications to renew or replace a passport without being physically present at a passport center.
They can change a name or correct an error in a passport via mail. Applicants can also apply for a passport card or report a lost or stolen passport via mail.
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To apply in person, visit a passport acceptance facility. All first-time applicants and Children under the age of 16 must apply in person. Applicants who misplaced or had their passport stolen must also apply in-person. The acceptance facilities include local government offices, clerks of court, libraries, and post offices.
Before applying, Applicants should contact their local passport acceptance facility to confirm if it is open. Some locations may require appointments to enable social distancing. Applicants must make an appointment on the USPS.com website if they intend to apply to a post office.
When applying at a passport acceptance facility, applicants will choose between routine service or expedited service. Expedited service costs an additional $60 per application.
The standard processing time for a U.S. passport is 6-8 weeks. However, with passport facilities still working less than full capacity, the current routine Passport processing time is 10-12 weeks. Expedited processing time is now 4-6 weeks and is currently restricted to emergency life or death situations. United States Embassies and consulates are presently making emergency passport services a priority.
An emergency life-or-death situation refers to severe illnesses, injuries, or deaths of an immediate family member. It requires travel outside the United States within 72 hours (3 business days). To qualify for this emergency service, proof of the emergency (medical report, death certificate, or a morgue statement) must be provided. The passport application should be accompanied by evidence of the emergency and Travel plans.
The coming months appear promising as global economies are gradually adjusting to the new COVID-19 era. With the gradual reopening of passport offices in Phases, full operations will hopefully soon be restored at various passport office locations.