I needed to renew my passport. I mailed off the application on Friday August 3. I did not request or pay for expedited processing. My new passport will be delivered to me today. 11 days to get my renewed passport including mailing out and mailing back.
I did initial applications for myself, two 16+ year old kids, and an 13 year old this year. Everyone but the youngest got theirs back in <2 weeks. His was hung up because my ex had missed the appointment and had to go through a couple of rounds of getting her consent into the system.
But yea, it was really fast and they came out pretty nice. We took our own photos and had everything ready to go so it was fast and easy. One of the benefits of increased computerization/automation. And the passports have chips with encrypted keys to records in government databases instead of printed personal info so they’re less of a danger of leaking private information if they’re lost/stolen. They can scan the passport and instead of it having the data there it just points them where to look it up. So even if someone decrypts it it just has things like Name->139848092f84b2 Address->12945fd854 etc. You have to put those keys into an authorized terminal to get our info.
Once you get everything you need, they do pretty well these days. The big thing is to renew it before a year ending in 6. The ‘passports take forever’ misconception is largely attributed to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative of 2006 that required passports for Canada and Mexico. It made millions of people rush to get a passport before the border closed and resulted in huge backlogs of months. When their 10 years came up, 2016 had a similar backlog. If you’re on an off-year though, it’s not that bad. They learned a lot about how to process them efficiently during 2006 and they move pretty quickly now. I still wouldn’t wait until the last minute to renew, but it’s not quite as hopeless as it was in 2006 if you are a little last minute.
My new passport came back Priority Mail. OTOH, my old passport was sent back separately, via First Class Mail IIRC. I guess they figure that I needed the new one a lot quicker than I needed the old one.
I don’t know if the American experience has been the same, but in Canada, passport applications used to be hell on earth. As recently as my first one, which would have been in the late 80s, getting a passport was only a little bit easier than a mission to Mars, and took about as long.
Now, it’s maybe ten times easier and you get your passport in a week or two, tops.
I can only assume it’s information systems that changed all this.
Pretty sure that you can get renewals same day if you do that, and schlep yourself to the local passport office.
I once washed my passport, and forgot that I’d done so, and had to get it replaced pronto prior to a vacation. So I got up early, dragged myself downtown, wrote an obnoxiously expensive check, and walked out with a brand new passport.
I got my passport in 3 days when I had to expedite and couldn’t get down to San Francisco to go to the passport office. I FedEx’d it down there. They must have received, processed and sent it back out all same day.
When I applied for my first passport, MANY moons ago, I had no idea the lag time on actually receiving it. I told the clerk I was flying out of the country the following week, and he said he’d see to it that I would receive it with time to spare. 4:30PM the same day the passport office clerk I had dealt with that very morning was at my front door, passport in hand, turned it over to me and wished me a good trip. I will say I was first in line when the office opened that morning, but I never expected to get my passport so quickly AND hand delivered. One of my proofs of identity was a copy of my military discharge papers, I wonder if that had anything to do with the speed with which I received it? Beat that!
I suspect this has partly to do with how much is known about everyone in the country (pick your country). If the Government/Google/Facebook is already tracking everyone in real-time, then there is no point in delaying a passport application. They have already done all the work. Not this isn’t a big brother is scary kind of thing, it is simply a true statement for not only the Government but several large companies.
Just by way of comparison, my (now-ex) Zimbabwean girlfriend once had to get her passport renewed. It took eighteen months, during which time her only identity document was a dog-eared piece of paper that looked like it had been run off on a malfunctioning Xerox machine, which it had been.