At this time, the State Department says the passport application process is taking more than four months (18 weeks), and “expedited” service may only shorten the wait to three months, according to a release. This means passport processing times are three times as long as the average wait time prior to the pandemic. The State Department website indicates the dramatic delays are the result of COVID-related issues and high demand.
Those who need to renew their passports immediately are no longer able to book last-minute appointments online the State Department announced on July 22nd. The change was made “made this change to address the problem of third parties booking all available appointments using bots, and then selling them to applicants with urgent travel needs” according a special page on the State Department Web Site.
Here are a few things you can do to help make sure you don’t have any unpleasant passport surpises.
Check when your passport expires. Lots of travelers assume that if their passport expires right after the end of their trip, they will be okay. Sadly, many countries require that your passport is valid for at least 6 months past your entry date. While in practice they don’t always turn everyone away, they have that option. And with additional border controls in place at this time, it isn’t wise to take the risk.
If you need an emergency passport or renewal, do not to delay and to begin the process immediately
Consider a private service that specializes in handling expedited passports. This may set you back anywhere from an extra $60 to $400, another reason to keep on top of your passport expiry date. Here are links to a few of these services: