Travel | May 19, 2023 12:37 pm

Ahead of Summer Travel Season, Passport Wait Times Double

You're going to want to check the expiry date on yours now

Passport
Will passport wait times ever return to normal. Probably, but certainly not this season.
Blake Guidry/Unsplash

Passport renewal continues to be a bit of a sore subject, as wait times have hovered pretty consistently between eight and 18 weeks, even for expedited applications, for almost the entirety of the past three years. In March, it was reported that the processing time had jumped from eight to 11 weeks, up from six to nine weeks in January (for the uninitiated, the standard, pre-pandemic wait times were closer to six). If you thought that was bad, buckle up.

Per a report from CBS News, processing times have increased yet again, now taking up to 13 weeks ahead of the busy summer travel season. According to the report, demand is up at least 30% and, even with more staff, wait times are still growing. For context, the number of applications is already projected to exceed last year’s total by 18%, and the state department issued a record high 22 million-ish passports last year.

Fortunately, you can still pay the extra $60 to have your document expedited, but even that will take anywhere from seven to nine weeks to process, which doesn’t bode well for the passport-less, summer travel hopefuls.

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The cause for the delay is even more irksome given that, in December 2021, President Biden signed into effect an executive order, which utilizes technology to “modernize Government and implement services that are simple to use, accessible, equitable, protective, transparent, and responsive for all people of the United States.” In other words: digital passport renewal applications. At the time, Biden said it was his hope that, by moving the application process online, it would reduce the nine billion hours of “paperwork burden imposed by executive departments and agencies on the public” annually. 

That said, the latest web application window for qualified applicants closed in February, and while the U.S. State Department has teased an online passport renewal application that would be available to everyone starting this year, its site still states that the online renewal service has been paused, so that they might “introduce improvements based on customer feedback.”

All of this to say, if you’ve got international travel plans on the docket this summer and you don’t know where your passport stands in terms of its validity, you might want to check that sooner rather than later.