Are you one of the 30 percent of U.S. citizens who has a passport? If not, and you’re planning on traveling out of the country any time in the next year, mark Saturday, April 9 on your calendar. On that day, the U.S. Department of State will host its third annual “Passport Day in the U.S.A.,” allowing citizens to apply for a passport book or passport card without an appointment at any one of the participating regional passport agencies or participating passport acceptance facilities, including post offices.
That is, unless there’s a government shutdown. While the State Department hasn’t made an official statement on how a shutdown would affect Passport Day, passport offices were closed the last time a government shutdown occurred.
Even though no appointments are necessary, there are two things you can do to speed your visit. First, check the list of participating locations (listed by state) to make sure you know the closest spot to get your application processed. Second, find the form that applies to your situation, and fill it out in advance.
While it won’t speed things up, knowing how much you’ll have to pay is helpful. Aside from the regular fees, there is an optional $60 fee to expedite your application if you absolutely must have it soon. Routine service (as of April 3, 2011) takes from 4-6 weeks, while expedited service takes 2-3 weeks.
Update: Due the fact that the government budget negotiations went down to the wire, the U.S. State Department made the decision to cancel Passport Day. The good news is that there is no government shutdown, so passport processing will not be affected–even though now there’s no special day to get your application in without making an appointment.