As the calendar turns towards spring, and demand for travel increases ahead of what is typically busier travel months, passport renewal is taking longer.
Late last week, the U.S. Department of State updated its processing time for passports, pushing the time it takes to get an expedited passport renewal from three to five weeks to five to seven weeks. Standard renewal is now at eight to 11 weeks, instead of six to nine weeks previously.
For reference, processing time begins the day the State dept. receives the application at an agency or center, not the day that the passport is mailed. That means that processing time for those using the mail might have several weeks added on to the door-to-door time it takes to get a new passport.
Those who are traveling with less time to spare are able to schedule an in-person appointment at a regional passport agency in order to expedite the process. Those appointments can be scheduled only via a phone call and only within 2 weeks of the travel date. Applicants will be required to provide proof of travel when making the appointment.
Processing time typically reflects the demand for passport renewal—more applicants means a longer processing time for the State Dept. The new, current time ranges for renewal are the same as they were last summer.
During the pandemic, wait times, at certain periods, were stretching into 18 weeks. Travel advisors speaking to TMR at the time said that the wait times were a major issue for clients, many of who were forced to cancel or postpone trips because of extended turnaround time.
Since then, the U.S. State Department promised more staff to help with the delays and an executive order signed in December 2021 promised to allow Americans to renew their passports securely online with “safety security" and to make it easier to connect with TSA in order to get questions and concerns answered.
The State Dept. had been allowing some to renew their passport online. The online portal, which was technically still in testing mode, was open as recently as January, giving passport holders the chance to do everything online. However, that portal is now closed and while the State Dept. told TMR that the plan is to roll it out fully sometime this year, that’s not an option for travelers right now.
“Based on feedback and learning from the limited releases, we continue to make improvements to optimize the user experience for renewing passports online. Full availability to the public for online passport renewal is targeted for 2023,” a spokesperson told TMR at the time.
More than 500,000 travelers have successfully submitted an application online, according to the department’s website.