Planning an international trip over spring break or getting serious about a European summer vacation?
The U.S. Department of State has some good news for international travelers and aspiring globetrotters who are applying for a new passport or need to renew an existing one. The passport wait time is back on track to pre-pandemic norms.
If you need a passport more quickly, you can pay an extra $60 for an expedited passport, which the State Department says is now taking about two to three weeks to process.
Regular times for passport turnaround are generally around six to eight weeks. This is about five weeks faster than last spring, when passport offices were bogged down ahead of a busy summer travel season.
State Department Says Demand for Passports is Unprecedented
Back in March, passport wait times were averaging 11 to 13 weeks for routine processing, and seven to nine weeks if you wanted to pay a premium to expedite the process. In September, the State Department recommended renewing your passport six months ahead of time.
The State Department explained that it had been fielding an unprecedented number of applications, which was causing the backlog. The State Department said it set a record between October 2022 and September 2023 when it issued 24 million passport books and cards.
According to its latest update, the State Department is putting systems in place to manage the workload.
“We are aggressively recruiting and hiring across our passport agencies and centers,” the update on the Department of State website said. “Our passport team members nationwide are working overtime each month to issue the millions of passports sought by traveling Americans.”
Planning Your Passport Application
One important thing to take into consideration when you’re mapping your time frame for passport renewal is that the quoted processing times don’t include the time it takes for mail to get from place to place. To play it safe, pad the wait times with an extra two weeks on either side.
If you pulled your passport out and realized it’s expiring or that you’re traveling to a country that requires you to have at least six months of validity on your passport for entry, you do have an even quicker option. You can make an appointment for an urgent passport at one of 26 agencies across the country. However, you will need proof that you’re traveling within two weeks (such as a flight itinerary or hotel reservations).
Also, keep checking the Department of State website for updated passport processing times, as they do tend to fluctuate throughout the year. Now, though, if you’ve got an international trip, at least some stress can be relieved around getting a passport.
Are passport wait times back to normal? There’s good news originally appeared on Simplemost.com, helping make the most out of life.