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Passport Delays Require Extra Planning

The State Department expects the busiest summer travel season on record.

By Amy Durham

man hand holding passport and boarding pass in airport
CREDIT Joshua Woroniecki / Pixabay

The U.S. Department of State has issued a warning that passport requests have reached unprecedented levels and is advising travelers to apply for passports now to avoid potential delays. The State Department has stated that routine passport applications are taking 10 to 13 weeks to process, while expedited applications are taking seven to nine weeks. These times begin when the agency receives the application, and travelers should account for about two weeks for the agency to receive the application in the mail and another two weeks to receive the completed passport. Even with expedited shipping, the soonest travelers can expect a passport is two months.

As more Americans are traveling internationally again, the State Department is directing resources to meet the unprecedented demand seen so far in 2023. During just a few weeks this past winter, the Department received more than 500,000 applications, the highest number ever for this time of year, exceeding official projections. The State Department is on track to set the record for the highest demand year ever, far surpassing volumes seen during previous surges in demand in 2007 and 2017.

To address the increased workload, the State Department is aggressively recruiting and hiring across its passport agencies and centers. Passport team members nationwide contribute tens of thousands of hours of overtime a month to issue the millions of passports sought by traveling Americans. A satellite office has been opened to help process the large number of applications being received.

If travelers need a passport right away, the State Department will consider travel “urgent” if they’ve applied for a passport, have not received it yet, and are traveling in the next five days. In this case, they can go to a passport agency or center in person by making an appointment by phone. If they have yet to apply for a passport and need one in the next 14 days, they can also make an appointment to visit a passport center in person. Note that appointments are limited and are not guaranteed. The State Department will continue to provide regular updates about passport processing times and encourages travelers to check the status of their passport application and sign up for updates via email.

travel.state.gov

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