Passport Processing Times Just Hit a New Milestone

The State Department announced the latest update on Monday.

International travelers, you can now stretch out a big smile just in time for the holidays. Passport processing times have finally returned to a more typical, pre-pandemic revenge travel normal.

According to a new media advisory issued Monday by the US State Department, you'll have to wait a much more normal amount of time for your passport application to be processed now. This summer, processing times spiked dramatically due to an increase in the passport backlog. Back in late March, it took 10-13 weeks for regular processing (versus the 8-11 weeks of early March) and 7-9 weeks for expedited processing (it used to be 5-7 weeks).

Now, we're back to a more typical waiting time. The US State Department announced that travelers who filed on or after Monday, December 18 should now expect to wait 6-8 weeks (versus 8-11 weeks in October) for routine service and 2-3 weeks (versus 5-7 weeks) for expedited service, which comes at a price of $60. Keep in mind, though, that the State Department doesn't include delivery times in their processing times estimates, so that needs to be separately factored into your anticipated wait time.

The State Department said the new and improved wait times are the product of hard work from the office's workforce, which it said has been focused on getting the process back on track with March 2020 benchmarks after a long period of delayed processing.

"We have worked hard to modernize and improve the service we provide to the American people," the advisory read. "We will continue to do so in 2024."

The advisory noted that the department has been dealing with an "unprecedented" level of demand for passports, and that it issued 24 million passport books and cards between October 2022 and September 2023, the most in the department's history. While only 5% of Americans had a passport in 1990, now 48% of Americans hold a valid passport today. All told, it said there are over 160 million valid US passports in circulation today.

There are a few resources you can use to try and make both your passport application and your travel experience smoother. First of all, the State Department encourages Americans to check its website to both learn how to apply and to check the status of their passport application. You can also find a direct link to check your passport renewal or passport application status right here.

Additionally, the State Department encourages Americans traveling outside of the US to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which allows them to receive important messages, advisories, and alerts about the destination they're traveling to.

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She will beg you not to put pineapple on pizza. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.