WHEN SHOULD I APPLY FOR MY PASSPORT?
When should I apply to get my passport?
Be sure to apply to get your passport at least 4 months before you travel to another country (this now includes Canada).
Why? So is it completely necessary to apply for your passport 4 months in advance? No, but it is a good idea. When getting a passport you have to pick up the necessary forms, make sure that they are filled out properly, get some really bland pictures taken, make an appointment in your busy schedule to go to the post office (or use a passport expediting company), and submit everything to the local passport processing center which may not be all that local. Then you wait.
Assuming all goes well you could get your passport with normal processing speed in as early as 2 weeks, but it could also be up to 10 weeks depending on the situation. Of course if the federal government happens to close down it might be even longer.