The system to get a passport in the United States is currently a hot mess. In January 2020, it generally took 6-8 weeks to get a passport, and in April 2021 it was 10-12 weeks. And now, in early September 2021, the State Department’s website currently says it could take upwards of 18 whole weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received.
That’s four and a half months, y’all.
Granted, you can pay for expedited service, but the time that it takes has increased incrementally, as well. In January 2020, it was 2-3 weeks. In April 2021 it was 4-6 weeks. By June, 2021, they were up to 10 weeks. And now? It’s currently quoted as upwards of 12 weeks.
So 3 months.
Craziness. Utter, utter, craziness.
True, some people get their passports faster than that. Others have waited the full maximal time. A few have sometimes waited even longer. And frankly, there doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason for when someone gets their passport back.
So meanwhile, what happens if you paid for a passport, didn’t get it in time for your trip and had to cancel your travel?
Or what if you paid for expedited service and it still took more than 12 weeks to get it?
Can you get a refund?
In general, passport execution fees are nonrefundable. It’s included in Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations 51.51 and 51.55. So if you had to cancel your plans because you didn’t get your passport in time, the government is not going to refund your money for your passport, even though it didn’t get there in time for your trip (they’re also not going to reimburse you for the money you may have lost because you couldn’t go on your trip. Besides, you did get travel insurance for that trip, right?).
However, if you paid for expedited service and didn’t get your passport back within the expected 12 weeks window, you may be eligible for the refund of your $60 expedited service fee (to clarify, you can’t request a refund of the separate passport application fee or acceptance fee; only the $60 extra you paid for the process to be expedited).
The State Department has a page where you can request a refund, if, as they specify:
- You paid the $60 fee for expedited service when you applied, and
- You have reason to believe that you did not receive expedited service.
When you’re on the page, you’ll be requested to:
- Complete their online request form only if you applied for expedited service and did not receive your passport in the expedited passport service commitment published on the page.
- Include the full legal name as it appears on the passport application.
- Include your 9-digit Application Number, which is available by checking the Online Passport Status System or calling the National Passport Information Center (heads up: you must get this number before submitting your refund request).
- Explain your situation, as well as whether you’re requesting a refund of the expedited fee for yourself or someone else (say, a dependent child).
- After you click Submit, you should receive an automated email at the email address you provided. Do not submit a second, duplicate request for your refund because it will delay processing your original request.
Once they receive your request, they say it’ll take us up to 6 weeks to process your refund.
They also have an option to request your refund via snail mail – information for that is towards the bottom of the same page.
Feature Photo: Max Pixel
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary