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1st-time US passport holders can apply in person at fairs this summer

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It’s no secret that getting a passport has taken longer than usual in the last few months.

And while, unfortunately, there’s no immediate fix for that backlog as a whole, U.S. passport applicants who have trouble getting appointments to start the process can apply in person at passport acceptance fairs held monthly across the country — the majority of which are aimed at enrolling first-time passport holders and children under age 17.

Special passport acceptance fairs for new applicants are being held at local post offices, libraries and government offices, with many events scheduled for this summer. Those who are eligible to renew their passports should continue to do so via mail, per a Department of State official.

To locate an event, you can use the State Department’s Acceptance Facility Search Page to identify upcoming events by state.

state department website

Most events are held during the day, with some weekend availability, depending on the location. If you can’t find a convenient event, note that new locations are added weekly. Some require appointments, and some allow you to arrive within specified hours.

The same documentation is required for in-person passport processing at these events as outside of these events.

This includes completing a paper form, providing an original or certified physical copy plus a photocopy of U.S. citizenship (e.g., birth certificate), a valid ID and photocopy of said ID (e.g., driver’s license), and a photo of the applicant that meets requirements. Some facilities provide photo services for an additional fee.

Related: What I learned renewing my passport for the first time

Current passport processing times

processing times online

And while these events expedite your process starting, once submitted, the processing times for passports will be the same for applications submitted at passport acceptance facilities as via mail or any regular route.

As of July, the State Department estimates 10 to 13 weeks for routine passport service and seven to nine weeks for expedited service, plus an additional two weeks for processing and mailing.

Travelers with urgent international travel passport requests can make an in-person appointment for emergency travel (travel within 72 hours for emergency circumstances such as death), nonemergency travel within 14 days or foreign visa requests within 28 calendar days by calling 877-487-2778. Proof of qualifying events is required for each.

Bottom line

The State Department advises Americans to renew or apply for their passports a minimum of six months ahead of travel. That means now is the time for any end-of-year travel plans.

And if you need to start the process and are having trouble getting an appointment for a new passport, be sure to check online for new passport acceptance fairs, which are being added weekly.

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