US State Department Passport Status – Apply, Renew, or Wait?

Passport - USA
Updated: Mar 27th, 2023This article is over two years old, but the GOOD NEWS is that you can now setup an account here to apply for your online passport renewal:

What shall we do?  A passport gives us the freedom to travel internationally and while we may be holding off … is now the time to apply or renew?

In a nutshell: The US Department of State announced that the passport agency is entering phase two of its three-phase reopening plan.

What exactly does this mean?
Well, during phase two, more staff will return and more applications/renewals will be processed beginning with the oldest applications received.

It’s important to note though that if you need a passport in the next 72 hours (3 business days) due to a life-or-death emergency only, they will prioritize and offer more appointments.  Life-or-death emergencies are serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family (parent, legal guardian, child, spouse, sibling, and grandparent) that require you to travel outside the United States within 72 hours. Click here for more details.

What Phase is the Passport Agency in?
Phase 2 and that’s good news, right? Well, personally, I’ve been holding off on sending in my renewal as at one point there were over 1 million applications in ‘pending’ and that just didn’t sit well with me.  What feels worse?  Having an expired one. As someone who travels, of course, having an expired passport feels like my lifeline to the world is cut off and it is – for now, anyway.   So what do we do?  Send in or wait?

Should I send my application in now?
According to the State Department, they are making progress working on those pending applications. There are currently 10 agencies and centers in phase two and 15 agencies and centers in phase one of the reopening plan. So, hopefully, phase 3 will be upon us very soon as that means more will have returned to work and the processing time will be reduced even more.

  • Applications are being processed on a first in, first out basis beginning with the oldest applications received (Uh oh!  Mine will surely take some time.)
  • As of September 3, they have completed processing applications received in March and are 92 percent through the applications received in April, May, and June.
  • Due to nationwide variations in staffing and the type of applications, some of the agencies and centers are already working on applications received in July and August.
  • Note:  If you applied before April and have not received your passport yet, they may have sent you a letter requesting additional information to continue processing your application. Respond to the letter!
  • The passport agency cannot provide a specific date when you will receive your passport and when they’ll return your citizenship documents (previous passports, birth, naturalization certificates).
  • The agency does anticipate a return to normal processing times this fall.
  • And, expedited services are not available right now.

Did you send in your application or renewal?
As of last week, there were over 150k applications received with 919k pending and 168k issued. What will next week look like now that the agency is in phase 2?

Here’s what you can do:

  • Access the Online Passport Status System to check your application status.
  • Status updates are available 7-10 business days after you apply or renew.
  • Receive automatic email updates on the status of your application by entering your email address after locating your pending application in the Online Passport Status System.

Do you know about the six-month passport rule?

Many countries require that your passport be valid for six months following your departure date and contain at least one blank page for an entry stamp.  Some areas that require this include Antigua, Barbuda, Belize, Grenada, and St. Lucia to name a few.


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About Donna Adinolfi 248 Articles
Donna Adinolfi is a wellness travel expert, a freelance writer, an award-winning photographer, and the founder/publisher of Her 30+ year career includes serving as the Travel & Spa Editor of Balance Magazine as well as planning wellness travel & retreats. An avid fan of the freedom from carrying cash or credit cards, Donna loves to visit all-inclusive wellness resorts in the U.S, and traveling to some of Mexico's and the Caribbean's many all-inclusive resorts several times each year. She's also a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association.
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