Even Your Elected Officials Can't Help You Get a Passport Faster

The surge in travel demand is continuing to feed into to a massive passport processing backlog.

A last-minute, down-to-the-wire strategy for getting your passport quickly has been myth-busted. Recent reports indicate that the ole "call your congressperson" method to speed up your passport processing time is no longer a viable option amid a historic backlog. Right now, the wait time for an expedited passport is between seven to nine weeks, with regular processing times reaching 10 to 13 weeks. It has left American travelers infuriated—a feeling they are making their elected representatives all too aware of.

The Hill reports that some congressional offices have reported as many as five times more passport-related calls in 2023 compared to 2022. People are frustrated, and sometimes surprised, to find that the processing times are so slow, especially if they already have international summer travel planned.

"I also recognize that constituents don't want to have to call their member of Congress to get routine government work done," Massachusetts Congressman Jake Auchincloss told CBS News. "In the near term, my office is here to help. In the long term, we need to properly fund the State Department so that they can process these routinely and expeditiously."

Auchincloss's office reports that it has received three times the number of passport-related requests compared to 2022.

The constant pressure on lawmakers has led some to propose legislation to deal with the backlog. The legislation would require a 12-week processing period for the State Department, plus a way for passport applicants to track the progress of their applications. Republican Senators James Lankford of Oklahoma and Pete Ricketts of Nebraska introduced the legislation as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which has just been received in the Senate for the 2024 fiscal year.

"It is a very big mess," Senator Lankford told The Hill. "That's just people coming to us panicked. These are folks saying that they requested their passport in February or January—it's July. They don't have it yet."

If you haven't been able to get your passport for your summer travel, there are still a ton of amazing places you can visit without that document. Just make sure to not plan any big trips abroad inside of the next four months, just to be safe (i.e. if you are hoping to spend the holidays in Paris and need a passport renewal, you'd better get moving).

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.