Press Releases

Acquiring Your Passport: What You Need to Know

Washington, June 12, 2007

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot from constituents with passport concerns. They need it for upcoming travel and it is still being processed. Passport demand has dramatically increased over the past few months and the time it takes to get a new or renewed passport has stretched far beyond the conventional month and a half that many expected when they applied.

In 2004, the 9-11 Commission Report examined our nation’s passport system and found that it was unable to ensure the identity of those traveling to and from the United States, severely compromising our national security. In order to address these serious deficiencies, Congress has taken a number of steps to ensure that all individuals entering the US have a secure passport.

These changes are vital to our national security, preventing those who wish to do us harm from penetrating our borders. It will take some time for them to be properly implemented, and in the meantime we are inevitably seeing delays at passport processing facilities. The Passport Service has already issued 8.6 million passports this year, a 33 percent increase over last year.

Last week the Department of Homeland Security announced temporary flexibility for US citizens traveling to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. I am pleased that DHS has made accommodation for travelers this summer. However, it is still imperative that you apply for your passport as early as possible. As you make your travel plans for the rest of the year, please keep in mind the following tips to ensure that you have your passport in plenty of time:

If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Bermuda before September 30, 2007,

All other international travel still requires a passport.

If you have applied for a passport, you can track its progress online at: Routine passport applications can be tracked 3-4 weeks after the application was sent. Expedited applications can be tracked after one week.

If you need a passport for your summer travel and have not received it within two weeks of your departure date, please contact one of my district offices for assistance. My staff can work with Passport Services to check the application status and help expedite the process if necessary. Phone numbers for my district offices can be found at my website:

Beginning October 2007, all individuals traveling between Mexico or Canada and the United States by plane, including young children, must have a valid passport. In 2008, this requirement will extend to ALL travel within North America. Because of these changes, you should consider applying for a passport even if you are not currently planning an international trip. In addition, if you currently have a passport, take the time to check its expiration date and apply for a renewal if necessary.

Right now it can take up to 10-12 weeks to receive your passport once you apply. Passport service can be expedited for an addition $60 per application, but you should still expect 2-3 weeks before you receive your passport. If you are planning to travel internationally any time in the near future, you should apply now for a new or renewed passport. you can still depart from and enter the United States by air with government-issued photo identification and a print-out of the online status check accessed at This will show that your application for a passport has been received by the Department of State. Please note, however, that once you send your application it can take 3-4 before you can access it online. All US citizens, including young children, must have proof that they have applied for a passport.

I have been pleased with the effort made by the Department of State to work with my office to address the huge influx of passport applications. It is always a good idea to have a valid passport, and if you have questions about applying I encourage you to visit or contact one of my offices for more information.