Daniel is a copywriter who has well and truly been bitten alive by the 'travel bug'. After ticking off several North American National Parks and exploring Europe by train, his sights are now set on South East Asia. Usually with at least one camera locked and loaded, you'll find Daniel wherever there are mountains, lakes or beaches.
As international travel demand continues to skyrocket, Americans are being forced to wait for a new passport, with the State Department advising to submit applications at least six months before your departure date.
As of early July, a State Department official claimed processing times are between 10 and 13 weeks for a routine application. For an extra $60 you can speed that up to seven to nine weeks.
These estimates do not include the time taken for your application to get through the mailing system and arrive for processing. As the surge continues, the State Department claims it is meeting its estimated processing times in the “vast majority of cases,” and some are receiving their passports quicker.
With around 400,000 applications coming in each week currently; over 500,000 arrived weekly from January to May, demand has shot up. When compared to the same time period in 2022, many weeks are seeing close to twice as many applications. By the end of 2023’s fiscal year, it is estimated that 2 million more applications will be processed than the previous record held in 2019.
To help tackle the unprecedented demand, the State Department has begun to expand its processing services and offer weekend call centers. Those applying for passports can now speak to an advisor from 10am to 3pm ET on Saturdays and Sundays.
Senators have even got involved after an outcry from the public on delayed waiting times. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va, told NBC News that he understood Americans’ annoyance. “We have to do better,” he said, adding, “You shouldn’t have to wait three hours on the phone.”
“We ought to be able to have that surge capacity. … You shouldn’t have to call your senators,” Warner said
So, if you’re planning an international trip any time soon and need a passport, make sure to apply well in advance. In these cases, it is best to avoid buying any airline tickets or paying for accommodation before knowing your passport is on the way. Travel insurance providers will very rarely payout for issues regarding passport applications.