What Factors Affect the Cost of a Passport?

Gregory Hanson

The cost of a passport varies widely from nation to nation. Most countries offer expedited passport services for people who need documents very quickly, but this typically comes with a greater cost. Passports for the young, the old, or members of certain population groups may have higher or lower price tags as well. The supporting documentation and associated document delivery requirements may also affect the cost of a passport. Some nations also offer different categories of passport, with different costs for each.

A passport.
A passport.

No international convention governs the rates that are charged for passports, and as a result, nations can and do set prices as they wish. Countries that wish to discourage travel may set passport prices at a very high level, while those that wish to encourage their citizens to travel provide passports at lower cost. These are broad trends only, however, and many exceptions exist.

People who need a passport quickly may have to pay extra.
People who need a passport quickly may have to pay extra.

Almost all nations take at least three weeks to issue a new passport under ordinary circumstances. Most also offer their citizens the opportunity to obtain a passport more quickly for an additional fee. Typically, the faster the service, the greater the addition to the cost of a passport.

Many nations have special pricing for some categories of citizens. In some cases, children may be listed on their parents' passports while very young, sometimes for an added fee, although this practice is becoming less common. Most countries require passports for minor children, but these are often priced at a lower rate. Retirees sometimes benefit from lower passport prices as well.

The supporting documents needed in order to be issued a passport also vary widely from nation to nation. In some cases, these documents, such as birth certificates, can be obtained for free. Frequently, however, a fee is assessed for each document issued to a citizen, and these fees raise the overall cost of a passport.

Some nations have particular restrictions on how the documentation for visas and passports can be submitted. One common restriction prohibits the submission of supporting documents by mail. Nations that impose such a restriction may insist that documents be submitted by hand, either by an applicant or a hired courier. Traveling to submit documents and paying a courier both increase the total price.

Passports with limited utility may be available for a lower price. The United States, for instance, offers simplified passports valid for land and water travel to Mexico, Canada, and a few other nearby destinations. The cost of a passport with such limited functionality is typically significantly lower than the cost of a traditional passport.

A passport photo.
A passport photo.

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