The U.S. Department of State is pleased to provide the following update on U.S. passport services to the American people:
In March 2020, the Department significantly reduced passport operations across the United States to both protect our workforce and our customers and also prevent the spread of COVID-19. We temporarily suspended expedited passport processing and restricted service at U.S. passport agencies and centers to life or death emergencies.
In order to keep everyone safe, and to maintain the highest standards of security and privacy protection for customers, we have suspended all but the most urgent cases. Processing passport applications requires us to review sensitive documents, such as birth certificates and other personal records, and to physically print and mail passport books and cards back to applicants. This means that our staff are not able to process passport applications from home. For customers who already submitted applications, your documents remain secure pending further processing.
As global conditions continue to evolve, and as states and health authorities adapt their operational recommendations, the Department looks forward to resuming routine passport processing, while protecting the safety of both our staff and our customers.
Our gradual reopening will follow the Department of State’s “Diplomacy Strong” plan, which follows U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines across the country, based on science and public health. We are continuously evaluating conditions at each of our locations and will resume operations in accordance with public health data for that region and with local government response measures. We are working to resume normal operations in phases. Each passport agency and center will open on a different date based on local conditions:
Phase 1: Limited staff return to work, allowing us to resume limited processing of applications we already received. Applications will be processed on a first in, first out basis. We will continue to offer services for customers with life-or-death emergencies. Customers must wear cloth face coverings in all common areas, including our lobbies, and observe strict social distancing. During phase 1, we will continue to recommend customers wait to submit new or renewal applications as delays will continue.
Phase 2: Most staff will return to work, and will process applications on a first in, first out basis, beginning with the oldest applications. Staff and customers should wear cloth face coverings in all common areas, including our lobbies, and continue to observe social distancing.
Phase 3: All remaining Passport Services staff return to work. We will continue to address applications on a first in, first out basis, focusing on the oldest applications. Staff and customers may wear cloth face coverings in common areas and we will encourage social distancing. We also plan to resume expedited processing in this phase.
We will continue to prioritize life-or-death emergency applications throughout all three phases of our reopening process. As we move to each phase of the reopening plan, we will update customers here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/passport-covid-19.html. Customers seeking more information about their pending passport applications should visit our COVID-19 update page and our frequently asked questions page.
Our goal is to provide the best possible customer service to the American people while maintaining a safe workplace. On a normal basis, we process over 18 million passports a year. In light of the sustained demand for passports, even after we fully resume routine operations at individual locations, customers may continue to experience delays. We are committed to working as hard as we can to process applications as quickly as possible, as soon as it is safe for us to do so.
The safety and welfare of U.S. citizens is a top priority of the Department of State. We encourage Americans who are planning travel to check our travel information at travel.state.gov for our latest advice to travelers. We continue to closely monitor health and safety conditions across the globe and will update our advice to U.S. travelers when it is appropriate to do so, in close coordination with the CDC and other partner agencies.