Here's Why You Should Get Your Passport Application Submitted ASAP

Current wait times for getting your passport vary but could take months.

Maudib/iStock/Getty Images
Maudib/iStock/Getty Images
Editor's Note: We know COVID-19 is continuing to impact your travel plans. Should you travel now, be sure to familiarize yourself with the CDC's latest guidance on domestic and international travel as well as local requirements, protocols, and restrictions for both your destination upon your arrival and your home city upon your return. Be safe out there.

If you plan to travel this year and need to get or renew your passport, the earlier you start the process, the less stressed out you'll be. While the wait times to get an application processed by the State Department are shorter this year than last year, they are still longer than pre-pandemic rates. The State Department warns that current processing times are between eight and 11 weeks. "Apply at least 4-6 months before planned travel," the State Department website states.

However, that figure could be subject to change as summer travel kicks into high gear and more people send in applications. Processing times for passport applications were an average of 18 weeks in 2021. Staffing shortages and mailing delays caused by the pandemic caused the extended wait times. 

It is important to note that the current estimate of eight to 11 weeks posted on the State Department website is only the time for processing applications and doesn't include shipping times. "Our processing times begin the day we receive your application at a passport agency or center, not the day you mail your application or apply for a passport at a local acceptance facility," the website states.

So, that means even an eight-week turnaround could be anywhere from nine to 11 weeks of wait time until you get your passport in your hand. While six months is an extra cushion based on these current estimates, it is better to be extra prepared when it comes to travel in 2022. The estimated wait time for expedited passport applications is five to seven weeks.

On the State Department website, you can access the application forms, track the status of your application, calculate the fees for your application, and learn more about how to submit your passport via mail or through an acceptance center.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.