What the Historic Summer Travel Season Means for Passport Processing Times
The US State Department just shared an update on the status of passport applications.
Back in March, the US State Department hurried everybody planning to travel this summer to either apply for or renew their passport right away. At the time, passport processing times had just increased, facing the surge in demand right ahead of a forecasted busy summer travel season.
Now that we're right in the middle of it, the US State Department doesn't apparently have any news of relief. In late March, passport processing times were 10-13 weeks for regular processing and 7-9 weeks for expedited processing, which costs an extra $60. Those processing times remain the same, and the department is now saying that processing times likely won't return to pre-pandemic levels until the end of the year.
"We are working hard to get back to our pre-pandemic processing times by the end of calendar year 2023," a State Department spokesperson told CNN. "We will update our website with the current processing times as we make progress towards this goal."
The State Department has reportedly been trying new approaches to meet the surge in passport demand, which, as Secretary of State Tony Blinken told Congress, is 30% to 40% higher than last year. According to a spokesperson, the department is currently focused on hiring, training, and retraining staff, which has been working "tens of thousands of hours of overtime a month," CNN reports. In the meantime, the department is advising anyone who needs a new passport to apply at least six months before you need it, according to NBC News.
If you are currently in the process of applying for a passport, there are a few things you can do to make your experience a little less stressful. First of all, the department encourages citizens to check its website regularly to learn how to apply and check the status of their application. Additionally, travelers are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive important messages and advisories about the destination they are traveling to.
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