And suddenly, the traffic has cleared: The New York Times' Joe Sharkey reports that the processing time for getting a passport has eased from the interminable waits travelers endured this spring and summer.
Those applying for new or renewed passports can expect the wait period from application to receipt to take about six to eight weeks, or three weeks for expedited service. But, as noted in today's Global Traveler's eFlyer newsletter, this new "normal" is actually a bit longer than the previous standard of four to six weeks.
As we've mentioned previously, getting a passport this year has been nightmarish: flip-flopping rules regarding the Caribbean, Bermuda, Mexico, and Canada, and delays of up to 12 weeks in some cases.
While the news about an end to delays is certainly encouraging, I recommend a healthy dose of skepticism and a few extra precautions. If you know you're going to need a new or renewed passport for an upcoming trip, apply as early as possible—maybe even 12 weeks ahead of time. That way, you (hopefully) won't have to add "tracking down my passport/cutting through State Department red tape" as one of your to-do items before leaving.
I also wonder if the application waiting period is back to normal because we're just past the peak summer travel season. Who can say whether we might be back to delays all over again next spring?