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How much and how long does it take to get a US passport?

The US passport allows travel to 185 countries without major restrictions, making it as strong as the UK passport. How easy is it to get one?

Chief Engineer and Head of Homeland Security, Michael Barington stamps the passport of a visitor to the Principality of Sealand, some seven miles (11 kilometres) off the coast of southeast England, on September 16, 2021.
Ben StanstallAFP

Getting a US passport is not a simple endeavor, and takes a considerable amount of time. If you are planning a holiday, it is worth checking your passport is in date to save a potential rush further down the line; you could be waiting over a month for a new one.

What are the requirements?

Firstly, and most importantly, you need to be an American citizen, not resident, to get the passport. If your visa is a non-immigrant visa, then you need to change your status and begin that process before being able to get a passport. After five years of having a Green Card, it is possible to apply for US citizenship

What about the actual process?

  1. File form DS-11, Application for a US Passport.
  2. Pay associated fees, which can be up to $175 for first time applications. A full list of fees can be found on the US government website, including a useful calculator.
  3. Wait.

So it's all done, right?

Usually, the waiting time for a passport application is between four and six weeks. However, it is possible to pay for your application to be fast-tracked, cutting the time to two to three weeks, but also costing $60 more.

However, this is all based upon usual timings and the covid-19 pandemic has increased the waiting time considerably.

For people over 16, a passport is valid for ten years, while under 16s only last for five.

What about renewing a passport?

The processing methods and time for renewals are the same as if you were applying for the first time. With a standard renewal, your passport renewal will take 4 to 6 weeks and pay no extra fees besides the $110 application fee.


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