Americans Facing Long Waits for Passport Renewals
Travel demand is quickly getting close to pre-pandemic levels. But Americans looking to travel abroad, have a new problem in their hands, besides the many rules and requirements they need to check. If their passport is expired, betting it renewed could be a headache.
More than 1 million passports are pending in swamped offices across the country. Routine passport service by mail, according to the State Department, can now take up to 18 weeks, compared to six to eight weeks before the pandemic.
Travel was shut down for more than a year, especially international travel. That means that Americans were not paying attention to the expiration dates on their passports. Others are realizing that their passport will expire soon. Even those who tried to renew during the pandemic has to endure long wait times due to less staff and office closures.
The State Department is telling travelers to plan ahead, and said it is continuing to move towards resuming normal operations. Until then, it is urging the public to apply well before any scheduled travel.
Even expedited service, which costs an additional $60 and took anywhere from a few days to three weeks before Covid-19, can now take up to 12 weeks. Americans who require passports more quickly than the current processing times allow must show proof of imminent travel within 72 hours of their appointment.
Appointments are rare and hard to come by as well. People across the country are taking whatever time slot and location they can find. Some are taking long drives or even flights. NYT gives examples of people driving over nine hours to Miami, or flying from Chicago to Seattle.
Let us know if you have renewed your passport recently, or are in the process of doing so.