Travelers can now obtain US passports with bitcoin. A visa and passport processing company based in California confirmed that it will accept Bitcoin as a form of payment as the US Department State’s activities are starting to return to normal.
According to a Nov. 6 announcement from passport and visa expeditor, Peninsula Visa based in San Jose, the company stated it would be allowing customers the option to pay for select passport services using Bitcoin (BTC). Backed by retailer payment facilitator Coinbase Commerce, Peninsula Visa will be offering passport renewals and name changes. This is in addition to applications related to second passports. U.S. citizens over the age of 16 are allowed to hold one “primary” passport book or card valid for 10 years in addition to a second one valid for 4 years.
“Offering travelers the ability to pay via Bitcoin feels like the right move at the right time,” said Peninsula Visa COO Evan James, citing his hope that travel would return to normal once the threat from the pandemic was over.
When government offices and companies were first shut down in March following steps to curb the spread of COVID-19, it also affected many of the 26 passport agencies of the State Department throughout the continental United States and Puerto Rico. For first-time applicants as well as for those renewing or altering their documents for common events such as marriage, this created delays in passport processing. According to a report from the LA Times, there was a backlog of nearly one million passports as of Sept. 23.
However, several of the offices of the State Department have already opened with workers for applicants for in-person passports. On Nov. 3, the government agency reported that it had shortened processing time to 10-12 weeks for regular applications and 4-6 weeks for expedited passports -pre-COVID, in some conditions, one could receive a passport in person within a week.
[image: Monika Kozub]