Passport Documents

What is a Sealed Passport Adjudicated Envelope?

One of the key elements of applying for a new or replacement passport is the sealed passport adjudicated envelope. Sometimes called a “hand carry envelope,” the sealed passport adjudicated envelope is a special envelope in which the necessary documents for securing a passport are placed and sealed for security during the application process.

After confirmation, an acceptance agent takes all of the relevant documents for a passport application and puts them in this special envelope called a sealed adjudicated envelope; this envelope cannot be tampered with or opened. Acceptance agents are usually a post office employee or a county clerk. These persons are authorized by the U.S. federal government to review passport application documents and confirm applicant identities.

The sealed passport adjudicated envelope is then sent to the U.S. State Department for processing. Routine processing of the paperwork takes about four to six weeks. If a passport is needed faster, applicants should mail or turn the sealed passport adjudicated envelope over to a reputable passport expediter. A professional passport expediting company can effectively secure a passport in around two weeks or less; however, there are even services available that can procure a passport in as little as 24 hours.

The Contents of a Sealed Passport Adjudicated Envelope 

The sealed passport adjudicated envelope should ideally contain the passport application, regulation passport photos, and other documents required by the outline of the Instructional Checklist. Instructions should be followed carefully and to the letter, as any errors could cause a passport application to be rejected or at least delayed. Once an adjudicated envelope is sealed closed by an acceptance agent, it can’t be tampered with or opened; if this occurs, the application will be voided as invalid.

Applicants also have just five days to route their sealed adjudicated envelope to the State Department after it is sealed; it must arrive there within five days. If using a private expediting company, the envelope should be overnight to them immediately; delay of this step could result in a passport application being denied. When the expediting company receives the sealed adjudicated envelope, they will hand-carry it to the U.S. State Department via appointments not available to the public. The passport will then be processed to meet the deadline.

Since the sealed passport adjudicated envelope can’t be opened, copies of the contents should be provided to the expediting company to ensure everything has been filled out correctly. At a minimum, a copy of the application and Letter of Authorization should be available for review. If there are any errors, they can be corrected without delay to the application process.