The Long Wait for a Passport

A backup of applications may force you to pay for expedited service.

We're all used to making allowances for airport delays. But those are nothing compared with how long you'll wait for a passport. Normally, the outside wait time is six weeks. These days, count on ten. Blame new requirements for passports when flying to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, and the usual seasonal uptick in applications and renewals.

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If you're even thinking of a trip abroad, get your passport now. If you're already in a time crunch, pay for expedited service from the State Department -- an extra $60 on top of the standard $97 application or $67 renewal fee. Then add overnight delivery charges -- both ways -- to one of the government's processing centers. If you're leaving within two weeks, call 877-487-2778 for an appointment at one of 15 regional passport offices. Be prepared to show your tickets or itinerary. Your congressional office may be able to help. Or you can hire a professional expediter -- find one at For fees ranging from about $80 to $200 (on top of the other charges), they'll rush your passport through.

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Anne Kates Smith
Executive Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Anne Kates Smith brings Wall Street to Main Street, with decades of experience covering investments and personal finance for real people trying to navigate fast-changing markets, preserve financial security or plan for the future. She oversees the magazine's investing coverage,  authors Kiplinger’s biannual stock-market outlooks and writes the "Your Mind and Your Money" column, a take on behavioral finance and how investors can get out of their own way. Smith began her journalism career as a writer and columnist for USA Today. Prior to joining Kiplinger, she was a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report and a contributing columnist for TheStreet. Smith is a graduate of St. John's College in Annapolis, Md., the third-oldest college in America.