Did you hear? Beginning Jan. 22, 2018, all U.S. citizens will need a passport for domestic travel from certain states, thanks to the REAL ID Act. Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act set security standards for ID cards in the U.S., and some state-issued Driver's Licenses and IDs don't meet the minimum requirements to be considered "real" by federal agencies like the TSA. So, yeah, it's probably time to renew your passport, peeps. How long does it take to get a passport? Well, like many government-issued things, the timeframe depends solely on how much you're willing to pay for one.
The standard, "routine" time is 4-6 weeks.
According to the U.S. Department of State's U.S. Passports and International Travel webpage, the standard wait time on a passport application or renewal is 4-6 weeks — so if you want to pay the minimum amount ($135 for adult first-time applicants or $110 for adult renewal applicants), plan accordingly.
Along with the necessary paperwork, you'll need to mail in your old passport and have new photos taken somewhere like CVS or Costco. Another thing to keep in mind is that even though your trip might be, say, eight weeks out when you submit your passport application, some countries don't always accept brand spankin' new travel documents. Be sure to triple check your destination country's passport validity requirements. Obviously, for domestic travel, you'll be perfectly fine using your new one.
The "expedited" time is 2-3 weeks.
Procrastinators can take advantage of an expedited passport application process for a greater fee. Receiving your document in a shorter timeframe will cost an additional $60. Plus, the overnight shipping charge to have your new document sent from the processing office back to you is an extra $15.45 for a grand total of $210.45 for adult first-time applicants and $185.45 for adult renewal applicants.
Both the routine and expedited applications can be handled at your local Post Office, making it super easy to pay the charges and ensure your documents are safely on their way. However, all the forms are available online as well.
The "expedited at agency" time is eight days.
If time's really limited, you still have options. For the same expedited rate, you can go to an official Passport Agency in your state. Do a quick Google search to find the nearest one, and book an appointment. They'll have all the required paperwork and a checklist online to ensure the process is super painless. Generally, agencies will only accept your appointment if you have less than two weeks before your departure date.
OK so, which states require a passport for domestic travel?
At the time of writing (Friday, Oct. 20), these are the states listed as "under review" on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's REAL ID map: Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, and Rhode Island. They were likely given an extension on the ID changes that expired on Oct. 10, 2017.
When we first reported on the states affected by REAL ID Act on Tuesday, Oct. 17, there were lots more under review. It seems the DOHS is working through the list fairly quickly, giving certain states a longer extension through Oct. 10, 2018.
That said, come Jan. 22, 2018, you should be prepared for changes in states that are still non-compliant with the REAL ID Act. However traveling from states still "under review" come Jan. 22 will remain unchanged with state-issued IDs until the government decides their status. And obviously, anyone traveling from a compliant state won't have a problem using their state-issued Diver's License or other form of identification.