Passport delays are still long: Apply at least 6 months ahead of travel, says State Department

by | Sep 22, 2023 | Financial

Fatcamera | E+ | Getty ImagesLong waits to receive new passports haven’t yet eased from earlier this year, as the U.S. Department of State works through a backlog of applications amid high demand for international travel.While the State Department expects delays to shorten through the rest of 2023, travelers should continue to plan well ahead, a Department spokesperson said.The Department’s message to U.S. citizens: Apply at least six months in advance of your planned travel or passport expiration date, the spokesperson said.More from Personal Finance:A controversial hack to save on plane tickets carries a ‘super big risk’How you can save $500 or more on a flight to Europe this yearWhat to know about your rights if a flight is delayed, canceledPassport applications are at an all-time highMore Americans planned trips abroad this year as their pandemic-era health fears waned and countries largely reopened their borders to visitors.The State Department issued a record 22 million passports in fiscal 2022. It’s on track to break that record again in fiscal 2023, which ends Sept. 30, a spokesperson said.Secretary of State Antony Blinken testified to Congress in March that the volume of passport applications has been “unprecedented.” Applications typically ebb and flow with the seasons, peaking from March to late summer, but “basically it’s full time now,” Blinken said.The State Department also had to restaff positions that were reassigned or eliminated when passport demand cratered in 2020 at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.How to get your passport fasterThomas Barwick | Digitalvision | Getty ImagesThe State Department’s six-month recommendation takes into account longer processing times, as well as padding for things such as mailing on both ends of the process.Americans should review current processing times before making any definite or nonrefundable travel plans, a State Department spokesperson said.A routine passport application currently takes 10 to 13 weeks to process, according to the State Department. A traditional passport — a passport book — costs $130. First-time applicants must pay an additional $35 acceptance fee.Travelers can pay more for faster service. Expedited passport processing costs an extra $60. Expedited passports currently take seven to nine weeks.For comparison, before the pandemic, it took two to three weeks for expedited passports and six to eight weeks for routine passport processing, …

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