Break the Wait: 1000 Americans on How to Get Passports Faster

How to get a passport faster: new study
As seen on:

Imagine you booked a long-awaited trip to Europe.


Your passport application is taking WAY longer than expected. You’re stuck in bureaucratic quicksand, unsure if you’ll get your passport in time. 

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Passport delays have frustrated travelers far and wide in recent years.

Which is why we wanted to learn more about this issue.

So we surveyed 1,000+ Americans and asked them about their passport-getting journey.

Read on for our insights that could save your next trip!

Key Takeaways

  • The most challenging aspects of getting a passport are waiting for it to arrive (22%), understanding how the whole process works (17%), and gathering necessary documents (14%).
  • Most surveyed Americans (52%) received their passport within 5–11 weeks of submission—yet 7% waited 16 weeks or longer.
  • Over half of survey takers (51%) were unhappy or very unhappy with their application processing times.
  • A majority of respondents (55%) said their application processing times put a major dent in their travel arrangements.
  • Disrupted travel plans led to significant stress (22%), missed work opportunities (17%), and financial losses from non-refundable bookings (13%).
  • The top advice for a quick passport process is to apply well in advance (23%). It’s followed by ensuring your application is error-free (15%) and comprehensive (12%).

The Passport Procurement Puzzle: Photos, Processes, and Patience

Did you know?

Bad photos are the #1 reason why passport applications are put on hold, according to the US Department of State.


As our first order of business, we quizzed survey respondents about how they procured their passport photo.

The results are in:

Passport photo procurement methods by generation

The data shows that most people flock to places like CVS or Walgreens (17%) to get the shot. It’s a particularly popular option for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, clocking in at 25% and 22%, respectively.

In contrast, Gen Zers usually gravitate towards mobile apps or online services (25%).

Makes sense.

This generation, having grown up in a world dominated by smartphones, the internet, and instant gratification, are digital natives. For them, using a mobile app or online service is second nature. 


While photos are important, they’re only one step in the application process. So let’s look at all the challenging aspects of getting a passport:

Most challenging steps in the passport application process by gender

Unsurprisingly, the wait for the passport’s arrival (22%) was the top pick.

More on that in our next section.

A Majority Received a Passport in Under 11 Weeks

Let’s talk facts:

If you applied for a passport at the start of 2023, the routine processing times stood at 6–9 weeks.


As the calendar pages flipped (and backlogs kept rising), the wait time first stretched to 8–11 weeks and then to 10–13. 

Add another month for mailing times, and you’re looking at a total of up to 17 weeks as of this writing.

No wonder US officials, including Antony Blinken, the nation’s top diplomat, have faced fury over passport delays.

The good news?

Our data shows most Americans who applied for or renewed a passport in the last 24 months didn’t have to wait that long.

In fact, a majority (52%) received the travel document within five and 11 weeks of submission.

Take a look:

How much time it takes to receive a passport after application submission

It’s likely because they applied before the surge in demand, expedited their application, OR paid for faster delivery and/or return shipping, among others.


Even 5–11 weeks isn’t particularly fast, which can make some people concerned. So here’s a rundown of the worries experienced by respondents during the wait:

Primary concerns during passport waiting period by generation

Accuracy and completeness of submitted documents (26%) ranks highest, especially among Gen Zers (33%).

On the other hand, Baby Boomers, having possibly gone through the process multiple times, are the most laid-back cohort, with 25% not particularly concerned.

Finally, we asked respondents about their satisfaction with their application processing times.

Below are the results:

On a Scale of 1–5, How Satisfied Were You with the Processing Times of Your Application?AVGWomenMen
Neutral / No opinion20.04%20.41%19.67%
Very satisfied12.65%14.23%11.07%
Very dissatisfied11.83%13.81%9.84%

Over half of Americans (51%) said they aren’t exactly jumping up and down with joy over the turnaround times.

That’s hardly a surprise.

Over Half Suffered Travel Setbacks from Processing Delays

With countless articles, stories, and social media posts voicing the public’s displeasure over passport delays, we sought to know how many travelers have been caught in the fray.


Without further ado, here are the results:

Impact of passport application processing time on Americans’ travel plans

Most respondents (55%) said their application processing times put a major dent in their travel arrangements.

That feels a bit too high.

So some of this could be due to what’s known as “exaggeration bias”—the human propensity to amplify the effects of certain experiences.

Regardless, let’s look at the consequences of these disrupted travel plans:

Consequences of disrupted travel plans due to passport processing delays

Significant stress and anxiety topped the list, with 22% of the vote.

Perhaps that’s because travel already comes with pressures and unpredictabilities. Throw in the uncertainty of not receiving a passport in time, and it’s a recipe for high cortisol levels.

Luckily, there are ways to fast-track your application.

11 Actionable Tips to Expedite Your Passport Application

In our last section, we wanted to focus on how you can get a passport faster.


We gave survey takers a handful of tips and asked them to pick the most helpful one.

The results are in:

Tips on how to get a passport faster

The top advice is to start the process in advance (23%). It’s followed by ensuring your application is error-free (15%) and comprehensive (12%).

Whereas if time isn’t on your side, consider investing in expedited services offered by the passport office (8%).

Beyond that, here’s a pro tip that could tip the scales in your favor:

Put your application in a manila letter-sized envelope. It’ll ensure your paperwork doesn’t get mangled in transit.

Safe travels!

Stacking It All Up

There you have it. 

A comprehensive look at the nation’s passport woes, along with advice on how to get your passport faster.


If you believe your audience will be interested in this information, feel free to share it. Just remember to mention the source and link back to this page.


We conducted an online survey of 1,154 US respondents who had applied for a new US passport or renewed an existing one in the last 24 months via a bespoke online polling tool in August 2023.

The respondents were 50.1% male, 40.7% female, and 0.2% identified as other. 28% of respondents were 26 or younger, 50.1% were aged 27–42, 19.1% were aged 43–58, and 2.9% were 59 or older.

This survey has a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of 3%. Given the gender and age makeup of our sample size, the study’s findings are statistically significant for the population at large.

This study was created through multiple research steps, crowdsourcing, and surveying. Data scientists reviewed all survey participants’ responses for quality control. ​​The survey also had an attention-check question.