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Reduced Operations at U.S. Passport Agencies in Response to COVID-19; Processing Delays Expected

U.S. citizens have several ways to obtain or renew a US passport, and under certain conditions, the process can be completed in as little as 24 hours.  However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. State Department has significantly reduced operations at Regional Passport Agencies and Acceptance Facilities. Effective immediately, Regional Passport Agencies will only accept urgent passport applications from applicants who have a qualified life or death emergency requiring international travel within 72 hours. Applicants will be required to provide documentary evidence of international travel and a qualified emergency – such as a death certificate or signed letters in English from a hospital or medical professional.

For applicants with a qualified emergency, appointments can still be made at Regional Passport Agencies by calling the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778. Absent a qualified emergency, the State Department is still accepting passport applications via mail. However, all expedited services have been suspended indefinitely; all applications will be processed under the standard processing time (currently 6-8 weeks, but subject to change).

Due to local public health measures, many Passport Acceptance facilities – such as post offices, libraries, and courthouses – have been closed or are not accepting passport applications. To submit an application in person for standard processing, applicants may contact their local acceptance facility directly to confirm operations.

For updates on domestic travel, please see our previous articles on the REAL-ID Act and current TSA ID requirements.

The Immigration Team at Mintz will continue to monitor these developments.

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Colleen DiNicola

Legal Specialist, Immigration