Finally, Some Good News on Passport Processing Times

The State Department announced the latest update on Monday.

International travelers, you can now stretch out a big smile. Passport processing times just got even better than last month, when they had already improved compared to a very, very busy summer.

According to a new media advisory issued Monday by the US State Department, you'll have to wait a little less 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, November 6 should now expect to wait 7-10 weeks (versus 8-11 weeks in October) for routine service and 3-5 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 a series of different efforts, from increased staffing to opening new offices. 

"We are addressing the increased workload through a number of efforts," the advisory reads. "We are aggressively recruiting and hiring across our passport agencies and centers. Our passport team members nationwide contribute tens of thousands of hours of overtime a month to issue the millions of passports sought by traveling Americans. We have opened a satellite office to help process the large number of applications we are receiving."

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.