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If I am a US citizen and I have never had a passport before, how long will it take for me to get one? How early do I need to apply before I plan on going abroad?

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I was in the same situation a year ago. It took me about 4 weeks to receive my Passport in the mail. Keep in mind, that you will need to send your original birth certificate with your passport application so you will be without that while you wait. According to Consular Affairs, it takes 4-6 weeks for routine service but you can opt for expedited service.

All things considered, I would say begin applying for your passport at least 2 months in advance of your travel date. Any later, and you may be cutting it close.

http://travel.state.gov/passport/processing/processing_1740.html

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    sheesh, what bureaucratic nightmare. Here in the Netherlands you just go to city hall with a passport photograph and a week later you can pick up your passport (of course they keep things like birth certs on file there rather than people keeping them at home). – jwenting Jan 18 '12 at 6:44
  • In saudi Arabia, first or last passport, you go in the morning and receive it afternoon and that's considered late, if you are willing to wait you can get jt in two hours. – Nean Der Thal Jul 25 '14 at 22:06
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    @jwenting Bur. nightmare? Try getting an Indian passport. Or worse, try getting an Indian passport in a second country of residence. Thumb screws are an easier option. – dearN Jul 26 '14 at 21:58
  • @NeanDerThal and everyone: expedited service is available in the US; it can also be done in a couple of hours but depends on the circumstances. See travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/… for more information. The advice in this answer is still sound though: give it a couple of months if it is at all possible. – phoog Sep 21 '18 at 14:58
  • @drN I got my Indian passport in 5 days from application. – Anish Sheela Feb 14 at 11:41
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tl;dr: Official wait time is 4-6 weeks, but it's about 2 weeks during the off-season. No official statistics exist, but you could call or email them to ask, or just ask at your post office.

According to The Bureau of Consular Affairs, 4-6 weeks or 2-3 weeks if expedited.

However, these time frames are not at all accurate, at least for off-peak months (roughly around Sep-Mar ?).

Fri, Feb 1, 3pm: I applied at a post office, was told that expediting is not really going to get me my passport any faster and to call if I hadn't got it within 2 weeks.

Wed, Feb 13, 5pm: Notified that my passport was printed and should arrive by Tue, Feb 19.

Wed, Feb 13, 8pm: Received tracking number indicating arrival by Sat, Feb 16, 8pm.

Sat, Feb 16: Arrived.

  • Other people have reported that it took them 3+ weeks, so take this with a grain of salt. – Zaz Feb 15 at 13:51

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