Tag: passports

A Sequel to the Passports Story

Last week I told the story of the project manager and the passports. This week, I want to add sequel. In order to do this, we need to go back in time a few months.

In early June I began looking into how long it takes to get a passport renewed. With COVID, nothing is normal, and so I assumed this was the case with passports. Indeed, what I learned from the official State Department website for passports was to expect the total process to take about 16 weeks: 12 weeks for processing and 4 weeks for shipping. I could be a little faster if one paid the expedited fee, but there was really no rush. So at the end of June, I got new photos, filled out application forms, and submitted my application to renew my passport.

We wanted to get passports for the kids’ as well, but seeing as how kids passports have to be renewed in 5 years, we figured we’d wait until the fall to do theirs. When fall rolled around, I checked and all indications were still that 16 week turnaround time. So we got the photos, filled out applications, collected all of the necessary paperwork, and, well, I’ve told this part of the story already. Along the way, I even managed to hit a squirrel.

On Tuesday evening, Kelly and I went for a walk. When we got home, the mail had come (unusually late) and in the mail was all three of the kids’ new passports. They arrived precisely 11 days after we submitted our applications. Eleven days. That’s about 101 days less than the 16 week estimate we were given. If you take that piece of data, and add to it the fact that our appointment estimate was 45 minutes and it took 7 minutes total, I think it is fair to say that the State Department may be overestimating how long things take.

After I got over my initial disbelief that the kids’ passports had arrived in 11 days (what would have happened if we’d paid the expedite fee, I wonder?), my next natural question was: where the heck is my passport? I submitted my application 105 days ago.

Well, this morning, I checked the status of my passport online, and learned that it has shipped and I should be getting it next week. That would still be about 2 weeks shy of the original estimate.

I suppose one could argue that mine was a passport renewal, and there is more background checking to do for a middle-aged man than for 3 young kids, and that’s why there’s were done so quickly. What I can’t understand is how much the State Department is overestimating how long it takes process passport applications. Could mine be just an outlier? Maybe. But I recall my brother obtaining passports for all six of his kids earlier this year, and getting them much faster than he was told. You’d think the State Department would want to brag about such efficiency. They could market it as what bureaucracy is supposed to be like when all of the red tape is cut away.

I guess they are reluctant to do this for fear of being inundated with applications (“the hug of death,” as Tim Ferriss calls it).

Well, anyway, kudos to the hard working folks at the State Department who proceeded these passports so quickly. It was an unexpected positive moment of truth, and you deserve to be recognized for your diligence. I only wish I knew your names.

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My passport is here…almost

I said I’d have my passport no later than Friday, December 29. It arrived today–only, I wasn’t home to sign for it and since was sent Express Mail, I need to be here, or pick it up at the Post Office. Since I won’t be home tomorrow, either, I will likely have to pick it up at the Post Office on Saturday. Even so, I will have my passport in hand before the end of the year!

Obtaining a passport, part 2

My passport processing is underway! I headed over to the Post Office at 9:12 AM and was back here in the office at 9:56 AM. Keep in mind that the post office is 0.7 miles away and so I had to walk a total of 1.5 miles in that time. They technically don’t start processing passports until 10 AM, and when I got to the front of the line, it was only 9:30. However, a very nice postal worker, Melina, helped me anyway. She checked all of the documentation, and processed the request. I asked for the expedited service for 2 reasons: (1) it’s close to end of the year and mail and processing paperwork gets busier at the end of the year; (2) I just wanted to get this done with.

All told, the bill came to $172.35. My passport will be sent to me via Express mail (I have a tracking number), and I should have my passport in hand by no later than Friday, December 29.

Obtaining a passport, part 1

I’m finally getting around to getting a passport, which I will need for my trip to Europe this summer. I did some quick searching to see how one goes about getting a passport and found these “simple” instructions.

It doesn’t surprise me that a bureaucracy can take 6 simple steps and turn it into a 1,500 word document.

For those who don’t want to read through the document, the 6 steps are:

  1. Provide the Application for Passport, Form DS-11
  2. Present Proof of U.S. Citizenship
  3. Present Proof of Identity
  4. Provide Two Passport Photos
  5. Pay the Applicable Fee
  6. Provide a Social Security Number

It is suggested that first time applicants, like me, apply in person. Therefore, step 0 in the list of above steps should be “Figure out where to go to apply in person”. I found that I can apply in person at a post office close to my office building.

Today, I plan on filling out the application and getting my passport photos taken. I already have proof of U.S. Citizenship, and I already of proof of my identify. Once I have the passport photos in hand, I’ll call the local post office for an appointment. It seems to me the process should be simpler than this. You should be able to do just about everything online except, perhaps, present your birth certificate. But what do I know, I’ve never applied for a passport before. Maybe it’s easier now than it was 50 years ago.

To be continued…

UPDATE: I now have my passport photos; I’ve filled out my application; I’ve checked with the post office here to see if I need an appointment (I don’t), so tomorrow I will go into the post office and give them what they need to process my passport. I’d do it today, but my birth certificate is at home.