Passport Services Are Delayed: What You Need to Know
by Cassie Sclafani, on July 20, 2021
As the world continues to open back up, international travel is beginning to make a comeback. But if your passport expired during the pandemic and your business trip is quickly approaching, your travel might be in some trouble.
Passport services are delayed nationwide. In fact, right now the U.S. State Department has a giant backlog - 1.5 million to be exact - of passports to process, and they’re warning people to give them plenty of lead time. Here’s what you need to know.
Standard processing times are currently delayed
You can expect up to an 18-week wait for standard passport processing for both new and renewal services. The State Department recommends starting the process about six months before you plan to travel.
Expedited passport services are limited too
In the past, you could get your passport on the same day if you were really in a bind. By visiting a Passport office (there are a few scattered across the country), waiting in a long line, and paying a fee to expedite, you’d walk away with your passport that day.
Now, the State Department warns of extremely limited in-person passport appointments available that can only be made within 72 hours of travel. And there are no guarantees.
You can also pay an extra $60 for expedited service, but even with “rushed” services you can still expect to wait 12 weeks.
Your best bet right now is to start your passport application or renewal process as soon as you can. Give yourself the full six months to be sure nothing gets in the way of your travel.
Customer Support is limited
Along with processing time delays, the State Department also cautions that their call centers are heavily taxed right now. You can expect long hold times if you call for a status check and even then, staff probably won’t be able to speed things up for you.
How long will this last?
The government is staffing up right now to help meet the demands of U.S. travelers who need passport services, but hiring and training takes time. It’s best to plan on continued delays at least for the near future.
What we recommend
Take a look at your passport today and just make sure it’s not close to expiring. It’s been a while since any of us were able to think about traveling internationally, so you might not have noticed it was up for renewal. Give yourself at least six months if you’re planning on renewing your passport. And don’t book a business trip overseas until you double check that your passport is in the clear!