To a frequent traveler, a passport is like a magical key that opens doors to other cultures and far-off destinations. Unfortunately, living out bucket-list dreams in other countries isn’t possible without one.
Applying for a new passport or renewing one can take longer than you might expect — which could cause stress to those who can’t wait to jet off somewhere new. Fortunately, it’s possible to track your passport application status while it’s processing, allowing you to keep an eye on its progress.
Here’s how to check your passport status and what to do if it hasn’t arrived before your trip.
How to check passport application status
Whether you applied in person or renewed a passport by mail, you can check the status of your passport by subscribing to email updates through the U.S. Department of State. Because your application is sent to an intake facility for payment processing before it’s forwarded to a passport center, it may take up to two weeks for the passport renewal status to be updated.
There are two main ways to check your passport’s status: Online or by phone. Email can only be used to cancel an appointment at a passport agency or center.
This method will likely be the fastest and easiest for most individuals. To check the status of a passport online, you’ll need to provide the following:
The last four digits of your Social Security Number.
It’s worth noting that passport tracking isn’t available if you’ve applied for a special issuance passport. The following types of passports are considered special issuance passports:
No-fee regular passports.
Regular fee passports issued by the Special Issuance Agency.
You can also check your passport’s status over the phone by calling 877-487-2778. Customer service representatives are available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday. The call center is closed on federal holidays.
People who are deaf or hard of hearing may use the teletype line at 888-874-7793.
It’s not possible to check your passport status by email; however, if you need to cancel an appointment at a passport agency or center, you can do so by emailing [email protected].
What do U.S. passport status updates mean?
Once you locate your pending application, you can enroll in U.S. passport tracking updates by entering your email address. If you see one of the following status updates, here’s what it means.
Not available: This status update means your passport hasn’t arrived at a passport center yet. It can take as long as two weeks for arrival. This update also can appear in case of a technical issue with the website.
In process: Your passport application has reached a passport center and is being reviewed.
Approved: Your application has been reviewed, and your new passport book is being printed.
Passport mailed: Your passport is in the mail to the address you provided on your application. To get the tracking number, enter your information on the U.S. passport application status page.
Supporting documents mailed: Your supporting documents, such as an old passport, a birth certificate or a naturalization certificate, have been mailed back to you. These documents are mailed separately from your passport book.
How long does passport processing take?
If weeks have passed since you mailed your passport application, you might wonder where your passport is.
At the time of writing, the U.S. Department of State estimates it will take 10 to 13 weeks for routine passport service and seven to nine weeks for expedited service. Mailing time isn’t included in the estimate, so you’ll have to add that to the total time it takes to receive a passport.
If you receive a letter or an email requesting additional documents, your processing time might be increased. To speed it up, reply as soon as possible.
If you haven’t received your passport
If your passport is marked as “mailed” in the system and you don’t receive it within 14 days, contact the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778. You’ll then need to fill out a DS-86 form stating that you haven’t received your travel document. Make sure to fill out the form within 90 days of the passport issue date or you’ll have to reapply for a new passport and pay the fee again.
Note that if the passport arrives after you report it missing, it’ll be canceled and you won’t be able to use it for travel.
If your passport hasn’t arrived within the time frame specified on the Department of State website and you have upcoming travel within 14 calendar days, you should call the National Passport Information Center, which will then contact the processing passport agency on your behalf.
Depending on your travel date, you might need to make an appointment at a passport center and request urgent travel passport service.
How to track your passport status, recapped
You can track your passport status online or by phone. It may take 10 to 13 weeks for your passport to be processed, or seven to nine weeks if you requested expedited processing.
If you haven’t received your passport and it’s been more than two weeks after it was mailed, contact the National Passport Information Center. If your travel date is coming up soon, you might need to visit a passport center in person to apply for a new document.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for: