As international travel returns to pre-pandemic records, a much-feared backlog of US passport applications has slammed against a wall of government red tape with insufficient staff to handle the demand. Aspiring travelers in the United States and other countries claim that this has led to a frustrating pre-travel imprisonment that is, at best, marked by expensive uncertainty.
Several factors have contributed to the current passport processing crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted government operations, leading to the closure or reduction of passport offices and the suspension of routine services. As travel restrictions eased and wanderlust set in, a surge in passport applications overwhelmed an already strained system. Coupled with a backlog of applications accumulated during the pandemic, the State Department has been unable to meet the exponentially increasing demand in a timely manner.
A few hopefuls are purchasing additional tickets so they can pick up passports that are still being processed where they are, in other places, in time to make the flights they originally planned.
The Department of State is committed to providing the best possible service for our passport customers. We encourage all Americans to check their passport expiration date before making any definitive plans for international travel, and to take action to renew their passport well in advance of international travel this year. This is especially important as we approach what is expected to be our busiest summer travel season on record.
Current Processing Times: Processing times have changed several times in the last few months. As of March 24, we are processing routine applications in 10-13 weeks, and expedited applications in 7-9 weeks. Processing times begin when we receive your application at a passport agency or center, and do not include mailing times. It may take up to 2 weeks for us to receive your application after you mail it to us, and up to 2 weeks for you to receive your completed passport after we mail it to you.
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