U.S. Passport Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Effective March 20, 2020, the United States Department of State’s (DOS) Passport Agency began offering in-person service at passport agencies or centers only for customers with a qualified life-or-death emergency who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours.

At some passport acceptance facilities, however, it is still okay to apply in person for a U.S. passport and renew through the mail. Expect significant delays receiving your passport and your citizenship evidence documents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. DOS recommends that individuals wait to apply until normal operations resume before applying for a U.S. passport in non-emergency situations.

What qualifies as life-or-death emergency?

According to the U.S. DOS, life-or-death emergencies are serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths within the immediate family (e.g., parent, child, spouse, sibling, aunt, uncle, etc.) that require you to travel outside the U.S. within 72 hours.

 To qualify for this type of expedited request, you must provide:

  • A passport application with supporting documents;
  • Proof of the life-or-death emergency such as a death certificate or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional, or a statement for a mortuary. (Documents must be translated or in English)
  • Proof of international travel specific to the emergency (i.e. travel reservation, ticket; itinerary).

To make an appointment at a passport agency or center for a life-or-death emergency, you must call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778. (1-888-874-7793 TDD/TTY), Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Eastern Time, except federal holidays. After hours, call 202-647-4000 to make an appointment. 

Expedited passport applications – suspended and expect delays

All expedited services regarding passports were suspended on March 19, 2020, and the DOS is not offering this service to any applicants.

If someone applied and requested expedited service on or before March 19, 2020, the DOS announced it has made every effort to meet the 2-3-week door-to-door service commitments, but with limited staff, there still may be additional delays.

Routine passport services – expect delays

If you applied and requested routine service on or before March 19, 2020, the DOS announced that you should expect significant delays receiving your U.S. passport and your citizenship evidence documents.

Applying for U.S. passports today

Many passport application acceptance facilities are not accepting U.S. passport applications at this time.

Please note that U.S. passport agencies in Atlanta, Connecticut, New York, and San Juan are closed to the public until further notice.

As of March 25, 2020, U.S. post offices that were still accepting applications are requiring customers to make an online appointment to apply in person for a U.S. passport.  

To contact the passport application acceptance facility online, visit here.

Renewing U.S. passports today

You may also be eligible to renew your passport by mail. To renew your passport by mail, visit here.

More questions?

For questions about citizenship and immigration matters during the COVID-19 pandemic, contact the immigration lawyers at Murphy Desmond S.C. at 608.270-5550 or infoimmigration@murphydesmond.com.

Published on April 7, 2020

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