As if American travelers didn’t already have enough to worry about with travel chaos happening all across the country, there is an additional hurdle they will face this summer.
Americans who need to renew their passports or families with children who have no passport at all will need to wait a lot longer as the State Department is struggling to keep up with passport applications thanks to unprecedented travel demand.
Getting a new passport is going to take months.
In response to Covid-19 and the pandemic, the U.S. State Department was hit with an extensive backlog of new and renewed passport applications that have caused a serious delay for Americans eager to travel abroad this year.
There has been a severe shortage of in-person appointments which is also causing the delay in the processing of passport applications.
After over 2 years of the pandemic, you’d think things would have improved by now, however, wait times are still longer than before the pandemic, and for Americans who are in the need of urgent passport renewal, well their options are more limited than ever.
There is no online booking option for emergency travel.
What was once a great solution for Americans who needed a fast and reliable passport renewal service, is now no longer a remedy. The online booking option on the U.S. State Department website – which was the only way to grant yourself a same-day passport – was removed last summer in order to prevent scammers from grabbing up all the appointments and reselling them later on.
What is the substitution? A long-dreadful phone system where hopeful travelers are doomed to spend hours on hold, waiting for the glimpse of getting an actual human person on the phone.
If you get lucky enough to actually get someone on the phone, you have to show proof of an emergency and immediate travel plan within 2 weeks. The appointment itself must be within three business days of your planned departure.
So if your emergency trip is scheduled to take place on a Friday, your appointment with the passport agency has to be no earlier than Tuesday.
If you secure yourself an appointment, there is no assurance that that very appointment will be at a passport agency in your own city or even state. You could be living in Miami, but if the appointment that best fits your travel needs is in Washington D.C. you would have to travel there in order to make your appointment.
How long does it take to get a passport?
The U.S. Department of State has issued a processing time of 8 to 11 weeks for a standard passport renewal. This number is accurate as of July 2022. Note that the passport processing time starts as soon as it’s received by a passport agency, not the day that you mail it out. This can add another week or two to the entire process.
What is the fastest way to get a passport?
This is the ideal situation for anyone who wants to travel within the next few months. Your trip is around 3 months away but you need a new passport. You can use an expedited service that costs an extra $60. This service can take anywhere from five to seven weeks.
If your passport is a simple renewal you can request an expedited process by mail, however, if you need a new passport for someone who has never had a passport, you’d have to go in person to a passport acceptance facility.
You have a serious emergency and need to travel immediately. Death and serious illness, are instances that would constitute this type of travel. You can request an appointment at a passport agency if you need to travel within 3 business days or if you have urgent travel that is within 2 weeks.
What documents do I need to apply for a passport?
- Application form
- Personal documents including but not limited to proof of citizenship, an acceptable photo ID, photocopies of both
- Passport photo
How much you pay for a passport depends on your age and whether or not it’s a simple renewal or a first-time application. Fees for rush service are also applicable.
16 years and older and a first-time applicant (Doesn’t own a passport):
Passport Book: $130 application fee. $35 Execution fee. Total: $165 (Standard Service).
16 years and older and a passport renewal:
Passport Book: $130 application fee (Standard Service).
Child under 16 and applying for the first time.
Passport Book: $100 application fee. $35 Execution fee. Total: $135 (Standard Service).
Expedited Service fee: $60.
Delivery fee: $18.32
The best way to avoid adding another headache to your travel plans this summer is by planning ahead! Your passport does not have to be expired in order to renew it. Most countries will allow visitors with a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after arrival.
If you’re not planning on traveling anytime soon but your passport is expected to expire within the next 12 months, it’s best to start the process now to avoid problems down the line.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com