Passport, Postal HQ, Tips & Tricks

A Passport to Your Dream Vacation

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Photo of Elvin Mercado, Vice President, Retail and Post Office Operations

Photo of Elvin Mercado Vice President, Retail and Post Office Operations

A Passport to Your Dream Vacation


I love this time of year. Spring is almost upon us, and the mind wanders to travel plans and taking a break from it all. For millions of Americans, this involves international destinations — which means getting a passport or replacing an existing one.

Obtaining a passport or learning how to renew your passport can seem like an ordeal, but have no fear; the Postal Service has you covered. We’ve been helping Americans get their passports since the early 1970s, and we have developed a process that is quick and simple. Our Delivering for America plan is also transforming how we serve our customers, making your experience at the Post Office more welcoming and efficient.

If you have an expired passport, you’re probably eligible for a quick and straightforward mail-in renewal. Simply check five short questions on our passports page at usps.comand if you answer “Yes” to all of them, you can renew your passport by mail. 

Even if you have a valid passport, it is always a good idea to check the expiration date before booking a trip because you’ll need the travel document to be valid for at least six months to enter most foreign countries. If you have fewer than six months left, don’t worry; USPS has a useful guide on preparing your renewal application. The U.S. State Department also recommends using a USPS delivery tracking service to mail your renewal.

If you are getting your first passport, or your existing passport was issued more than 15-years ago, then you must make an in person appointment at a Post Office near you. We understand that the last thing you need at this moment is added stress, so booking through our online scheduler is just a few clicks away. 

This will be the first passport application for many people, so we’ve created an easy-to-use, step-by-step guide that you can find on our passport page. If you prefer a visual guide, we’ve also made a short instructional video.

When you arrive at your appointment, you’ll be greeted by a retail associate who is trained and experienced in guiding you through the application process. Most of our passport processing offices will even relieve you of the hassle of taking your own headshot. Just remember to bring proof of American citizenship or naturalization and one officially acceptable state or government photo ID. There are also special requirements for children under 16, and who’ll need both parents’ consent and proof of parental relationship.

To save time, you can fill out your application beforehand using the State Department’s automated online form and print it and bring it to your appointment. Our retail employees are happy to check that everything is in order.

Now is the ideal time to get a passport. Keep in mind, processing times are back up to eight to 11 weeks, and if you find yourself in a pinch, an expedited application is now being processed by the State Department in five to seven weeks for an additional fee.

Many of us have held back on our travel plans these past few years, but all signs indicate the travel bug will bite Americans again this year. So don’t hesitate. Start dreaming of that getaway now, and if you want to explore outside the United States, know that the Postal Service is ready and prepared to help make that dream come true.


Elvin Mercado

Vice President, Retail and Post Office Operations