Should you apply for or renew a passport right now? Everything you need to know

Jul 7, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This post is regularly updated as new information is released. The original article was originally published on April 1, 2020.

Your United States passport is normally a symbol of your ability to move around the world. But the coronavirus pandemic has made it simply a reminder of our hopes to be traveling again when circumstances allow.

The State Department paused all but essential passport processing operations in March 2020, due to the risk of COVID-19 spread. But as of July 6, 12 passport agencies and centers have entered Phase One of the agency’s three-phase reopening plan, and four agencies and centers are now in Phase Two.

But what does that mean for you?

Image courtesy of the U.S. State Department.
Image courtesy of the U.S. State Department.

For the time being, it just means that the U.S. State Department is catching up on its backlog of nearly a quarter-million passport applications. Unfortunately, passport appointments are still being granted only in cases of life-and-death emergency with travel within 72 hours. However, the Phase Two update represents progress in the right direction.

Back in April, TPG spoke with David Pacella, senior director for strategic partnerships at, to clarify the situation with passport applications and renewals.

Here’s what you need to know about renewing or applying for a passport right now.

In This Post

Which passport agencies and centers are open right now?

As of July 6, the four centers that have entered Phase Two include:

All four are located in the northeast region of the U.S.

The 22 centers open under Phase One include:

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you can just march in to one of these centers and walk back out with a passport. During both Phase One and Phase Two of reopening, in-person appointments will only be granted for travelers who need a passport within the next 72 hours for life-or-death emergencies only. Applicants must have a confirmed appointment for same-day processing, and must wear cloth face coverings in all common areas, including the lobby, and observe strict social distancing.

Related: Some passport centers have entered Phase Two of reopening — but that doesn’t mean you can get a new passport today

My passport expires in the next 18 months. Should I apply for my new passport right now?

The answer is yes — travelers should apply now despite the delay, Pacella told TPG. “We anticipate passport processing services to get much, much busier once the travel ban is lifted,” Pacella said. “This is the perfect time for most people to renew a passport that expires soon, since you aren’t going right now and you can also beat the rush.”

Pacella emphasizes that individual needs vary, but says that the average traveler who has canceled international plans for trips in the coming months would likely benefit from renewing their passport now, especially if delaying further would run the risk of jeopardizing the passport’s six-month validity window. That rule requires that travelers have more than six months between the date when they return home from international travel and when their passport expires. A passport expiration date will not change and many other travelers will begin submitting new and renewal applications as soon as the travel ban is lifted. It’s best to beat the rush and send in your passport now so that you’ll be prepared to travel when worries over coronavirus have subsided, Pacella advises.

Related: These 6 passport mistakes could leave you stranded at the border.

What is the current situation for applications?

On March 25, 2020, the State Department declared that applicants could no longer receive expedited passport services unless they had a qualified life-or-death emergency which required international travel within the next 72 hours.

That regulation was followed on April 3 with an update posted to the State Department website clarifying that standard passport applications would continue to be accepted, although the department warned of significant delays in processing times.

Now, as of July 6,

Pacella told TPG that current turnaround times are uncertain. Routine passport processing is still available through a limited number of passport acceptance agencies, which include select post offices and other government entities such as county or district clerks, as well as private third-party agencies like

Under typical circumstances, standard processing via the State Department takes six to eight weeks to issue or renew a passport. Expedited service through the U.S. Postal Service takes about two to three weeks. Regional passport agencies in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Houston can expedite passports (in normal times) within one business day, although most say to expect it to take between five to eight business days.

I’ve already submitted my passport application. How can I check on its status?

Applicants can sign up for status updates and check their passport status via the dedicated Passport Status website.

What if my child needs an updated passport?

Every passport application for a minor under the age of 16 requires that the child apply in person at a passport acceptance facility. Both parents must be present with the child or an absent parent must submit a notarized consent form. Children 15 and under need new passports every five years.

Applicants who are 16 years of age must also have both parents present at the passport office when applying for their first adult passport, which is valid for 10 years. However, 17-year-old applicants only need one parent present. Applicants who are 18 or older can apply for adult passports on their own.

Can I still apply for a passport at the post office?

Because many non-essential facilities are closed because of the coronavirus crisis, many passport application acceptance facilities such as libraries, clerks of court and post offices are not accepting U.S. passport applications at this time.

As of March 25, 2020, the handful of post offices that still process passport applications are requiring customers to make online appointments. If you need to apply in person for your U.S. passport, contact the facility directly to confirm the status of its operations.

Where else can I apply for or renew a passport?

There are options in addition to post offices and regional passport agencies. You’ll need to visit another “adjudication agency” to apply for a new adult passport, a passport for a child under the age of 16, or when you’re replacing a lost or stolen passport.

To find the nearest facility in your area, use this website and enter your zip code to find the closest facility. Your county or district clerk’s office may be able to resolve your passport needs, although Pacella says that it’s a good idea to call ahead and confirm that the office which handles passport applications and renewals is still open as an essential service.

Should I apply through a third-party passport agency?

Normally, companies like excel at turning around passport renewals and new applications in record time. But since the same guidelines set forth by the State Department apply to both personal and business applicants, expedited service is not available through third-party agencies.

Nevertheless, a third-party processing agency may still be helpful, if only to ease your mind by handling your document preparations and delivery. Make sure the processing agency you select is an approved partner and courier service registered with the State Department as a hand-carry courier.

What circumstances qualify as an ’emergency’ for an expedited passport?

Life-or-death emergencies are serious illness, injuries or a death in your immediate family (a parent, child, spouse, sibling, aunt or uncle) which require you to travel outside the United States within 72 hours (three days).

To have your passport application processed, you must provide:

  • passport application with supporting documents
  • Proof of the life-or-death emergency such as a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional. Documents must be translated into or written in English
  • Proof of international travel (reservation, ticket or  itinerary)

To make an appointment for an expedited passport, you must call the National Passport Information Center.

Hours are Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET); Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The number is 1-877-487-2778 (1-888-874-7793 TDD/TTY). Outside of these hours, call 202-647-4000 to make an appointment.

What if I applied for expedited service?

If you applied for a passport and requested expedited service on or before March 19, 2020, the State Department will honor its commitment of a two- to three-week turnaround time, door-to-door. If you applied in-person at a passport agency or center on or before March 19, 2020, the passport agency or center will contact you to ask if you want to pick up your passport in person or have it mailed to you.

Passport applications after March 20, 2020, will are subject to standard processing times. You will not be able to apply for expedited service either directly or through third-party agencies like, and you will not be able to pay the additional rush fee.

Puerto Ricans should be aware that the San Juan Passport Agency is closed to the public until at least April 12, 2020.

Here are more details from Pacella about the current situation:

Third-party passport courier services
  • This rundown on the current situation has undergone a lot of revisions.
  • Make sure the company you are using is an approved partner and courier service registered with the State Department as a hand-carry courier.
  • Only use this service if you are traveling soon and cannot get to a regional passport agency. Passport agencies are located in major cities and often require an appointment. If you don’t live near one or can’t get an appointment, a service like may make sense for you.
  • Scroll to the bottom of this page for the list of regional passport agencies.
Passport status check
  • Applicants can sign up for status updates and check their passport status here.

Passport acceptance agent

  • The passport acceptance agent is required for all new passports and child passports and for replacing a lost/stolen passport.
  • This is also called an adjudication agent.
  • Find your nearest agent here.
Parental consent forms
  • Parents can submit a notarized consent form if they are unable to get or give consent for a minor applicant. This is required for child passports (age 15 and under). Applicants who are 16 will need both parents to give consent, even though they are eligible for an adult passport (valid for 10 years). Seventeen-year-old applicants only need one parent present.
  • Minor passports for children ages 15 and younger: When one parent cannot appear in person at the Passport Acceptance Facility, they can use the DS3053 notarized consent form.
  • When one parent is unavailable to give consent, the DS5525 form can be submitted. Usually this is necessary only under special circumstances, such as that of a missing parent.

Featured photo by Spencer Davis/Unsplash

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.