The Basics Travel Guide

How You Can Apply for a New US Passport or a Passport Renewal During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Written by Charlie

Yes, it is possible to apply for a new US passport or renew your current passport during the coronavirus crisis. Here is how and whether you should.

Last month, I wrote about how the US State Department was suspending the ability to expedite passports. It was also closing Passport Agencies and US Embassies from issuing new passports or passport renewals. For some reason, many news sites and blogs started talking about this over two weeks after – and many of them got the information completely wrong.

How You Can Apply for a New Passport or Passport Renewal

You may have seen the news sites or blog titles saying something like “You Cannot Get a New Passport without an Emergency” or something similar. That is completely wrong. You absolutely can get a new passport or passport renewal application in without having an emergency. But, it will take a while!

If You Have A Life-or-Death Emergency

If you have a life-or-death emergency – defined by the State Department as serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family (e.g., parent, child, spouse, sibling, aunt, uncle, etc.) that require you to travel outside the United States within 72 hours (3 days) – you can still apply for a passport at a passport agency or center. It is worth noting that the passport agencies in Atlanta, Connecticut, New York, and San Juan are closed to the public.

To apply, visit this State Department page to get started.

How to Get a Passport without an Emergency

While passport agencies are closed for everything but emergencies, you can still apply for a passport at passport facilities. These include post offices. Visit this page to search for those facilities that are still open and to see how you need to make an appointment.

If you need a new passport, you can apply through one of those facilities that are open after making an appointment. If you need to renew a passport (that was issued as an adult), you can still submit that renewal through the mail.

Should You Apply for a Passport Now?

Link: Apply for a US Passport

So, while you certainly can still apply for a new passport right now, should you? The big issue here is that the State Department says “You should expect significant delays beyond this time period it normally takes to receive your passport and your citizenship documents. Please consider waiting to apply until we resume normal operations.”

It is completely possible to apply but we see that they say it will take beyond the 6-8 weeks they normally say it could take without expediting it. How long will that be? It could be months.

If you are applying for a new passport, consider that you will need to send in important citizenship documents as well. This will include, at minimum, a birth certificate. It could also require various other citizenship documents if you do not have a US birth certificate that meets all the requirements.

This means that you will be without those documents for what could be many months. If you think you can deal with that and you really want a passport for travel at some point, then go ahead. Just be ready for it to take a long time!

Should You Renew Your Passport Now?

Link: Renew US Passport

This one is a little easier. If your passport is set to expire in the next 6 months, you likely would not be able to travel with it abroad now anyway (if you could find a flight and a place to go!). So, this may be a good time to get that passport in for renewal.

For passport renewals for adults, you do not need to submit those documents again – just your passport that needs to be renewed providing that it is undamaged (other than normal wear), was issued when you were 16 yers of age or older, was issued within the last 15 years, and was issued in your current name or you can document your name change.

This means that you fill out the form, submit your US passport that meets the above requirements, your photos and fees and then you wait. But, before you send it in, remember that you will not have the ability to travel outside of the US for what could be many months. So, I would only recommend you do this if you are within 6 months of expiration or know you will not be traveling abroad for several months.

Do take note of this – if your current passport was issued prior to you turning 16 years of age or the passport is for a minor, those renewals must be handled in person so they cannot be sent in.

Or, Just Wait

The last option is this – at some point, the passport facilities will reopen and allow for expedited passport applications again. You could always wait until that time and then apply for an expedited passport. It could arrive before it would otherwise if sent in now!

But, I did want to set the record straight that you absolutely can apply or renew a US passport right now. The big question – should you? Only you can answer that but hopefully this post helps with your options.

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

4 Comments

  • great article. thanks! minor correction ~needed~:

    “providing that it is undamaged (other than normal wear), was issued when you were 16 ~yers~ of age or older, was issued within the last 15 years, and was issued in your current name or you can document your name change.”

  • And if you were unlucky enough to have applied before March 19th, you are in limbo for months with no heads up that you would be in limbo. I applied for my kids’ renewals in early March. They all have CRBAs (difficult to replace) and they are all still in limbo. Nothing I can do at all except wait for who knows how long.

    • Oh, man that is tough! We had just gone through getting a CRBA for our newest one here in Greece and got her passport in February and one of our other children’s renewals the first week of March so we just missed it. Hopefully they will get to them soon for you! Really sorry about that!

  • I am supposed to get married in Mexico in October (live in the US) but my parents have not yet applied for passports and my sister’s is lost. Let’s hope the offices open up so we don’t have to delay the wedding.

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