Need to renew your passport for a summer trip? It may already be too late. The US State Department recently revealed that it is currently facing “unprecedented demand” for passports as post-pandemic travel returns.
During a House Appropriations subcommittee budget hearing, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “We’re getting 500,000 applications a week for a passport. That’s 30 to 40% above last year, so it’s dramatic.”
If you submit a renewal or new passport application now, standard processing time will now take around 10 to 13 weeks, according to Blinken. Even if you pay for an expedited request, you can still expect to wait between seven to nine weeks.
The estimates for these processing times don’t include mailing times (the clock starts when the State Department receives your application) so your actual wait may be even longer.
How to Check the Status of Your Passport Application
If you want to see what stage your application is in, try to avoid picking up the phone. The State Department reports that “some customers are facing extended wait times when calling the National Passport Information Center.”
Instead of calling and endlessly waiting on hold, you can quickly find the status of your passport application online.
If you renewed your passport online, log-in to your MyTravelGov account to check your application status.
For applications submitted by mail, visit this page on the State Department’s website to see your status.
If you need your passport urgently, there are a few options available. If you’re facing a “life-or-death emergency” that requires you to travel abroad within the next three business days, you can make an emergency appointment by calling the State Department.
If it is not an emergency, but you are traveling internationally within 14 calendar days and your passport is still stuck in limbo, you can call the State Department at 877-484-2778 to try to get an urgent appointment. Unfortunately, these in-person appointments are very limited and hard to snag.
Don’t be fooled by passport expediting agencies that promise to get you your passport faster (for a price). “Passport scams follow the same beat as most online crimes—take advantage of the target’s sense of urgency,” Cybersecurity expert Adam Levin tells SmarterTravel.
The State Department will never charge you a fee to make an appointment, and appointments cannot be transferred between people, so these companies are likely scams. The State Department warns, “You will not receive your passport any faster than you would if you applied in person at a passport agency or center.”
Simply want your passport application to be processed more quickly? You can pay $60 to have your passport expedited, but you may still wait up to nine weeks.
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