If you need to renew or apply for a new passport, you may face longer than average wait times. The State Department is reporting significant backlogs for both renewal and new passport applications due to pandemic-related disruptions and delays.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Department had to temporarily shut down passport agencies and centers for health and safety. Operations have now resumed, but they are still not back to normal pre-pandemic processing times. The State Department estimates that it will take between 10 to 12 weeks for routine service.
The backlog is not just due to shutdowns, however. Many Americans put off applying for or renewing their passports during the height of the pandemic, due to travel restrictions and health concerns. Now that more people are beginning to plan travel again, the State Department has seen a surge in new applications, contributing to longer wait times. They are advising people who need a new passport to apply now for the holidays and avoid paying expensive fees for expedited service unless truly necessary.
The delays and increased demand underscore the importance of applying for or renewing your passport with plenty of lead time. While the State Department aims to eventually return to normal processing times, the backlog of applications may continue to impact turnaround times for some months. If planning international travel, ensure your passport is up to date and allow a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks to receive your new passport. With planning, most people should be able to get their passports in time for their trips, but flexibility and patience will be important in the short term.
Copyright 2023 Travel Research Online. All rights reserved. From https://www.travelresearchonline.com. By TRO Staff.