Passport Waiting Period Could be up to 13 Weeks

CBS News - April 18, 2023 6:29 am

If you’re flying internationally this summer, don’t put off getting or renewing your passport.

International travel is expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels this summer. But if you haven’t already applied for your passport, either new or renewed, you may have to wait until the middle or the end of summer to fly.

The line at the passport office in Van Nuys stretched around the building as Christine Gallagher got there before it opened. She had to wait hours to be seen. She tried to avoid this by booking an appointment online.

“It’s impossible,” said Gallagher. “It’s like some weird Kafkaesque circle that you just go around in. And then I got onto the site and there was no appointments available.”

The U.S. State Department is processing a record number of passports, up to 500,000 each week — which is about 30 percent more than last year at this time.

“It’s largely due to the pent-up demand for international travel as people are really feeling like ‘We are back to normal,'” travel expert Katy Nastro of Going.com.

But passport wait times are anything but normal.

“Wait times have jumped not once, but twice since February of this year,” said Nastro.

It will take anywhere from 10 to 13 weeks for standard processing, which used to take six to nine weeks. If you pay $60 to expedite your passport, the State Department says it will still take seven to nine weeks — about twice the time it used to take.

“And that doesn’t include the time it takes to mail it to the agency and then receive it back,” said Nastro.

Debra Adler is hoping to travel to Ireland this summer.

“I am hoping to get a passport in time to travel at the end of June,” said Adler.

Do you think you’ll make it?

“I’m not sure,” said Adler.

So what happens if your passport doesn’t arrive in time? If you have proof of international travel within the next 14 days, you can get an emergency passport. But that’s not an easy process either.

“If you are needing to travel within that 14-day period, you do have to go in person for an in-person consult, and there are no guarantees that there will be appointments available,” said Nastro.

If you already have your passport, you’ll want to check the expiration date. Some countries will not let you fly there if your passport is set to expire soon, anywhere from one to six months from the date of travel.

 

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