Long Waits for New Passports and Renewals
As travel rebounds and more Americans start looking for their next getaway, they are finding out that renewing or getting a passport is not that easy nowadays. If you plan to travel abroad and yu don’t have a valid passport, then you should book months in advance.
Travel in general was shut down for more than a year, especially international travel. That means that Americans were not really paying attention to the expiration dates on their passports, and many let theirs expire. Other are realizing that their passport will expire soon. Add this to the extreme slowdown in processing during the pandemic, and now you have long wait times to get that new passport.
The State Department is urging travelers to plan ahead, and added it is continuing to move towards resuming normal operations. Until then, it is urging the public to apply well before any scheduled travel. Routine passport service by mail, according to the State Department, can now take up to 18 weeks, compared to six to eight weeks before the pandemic. Expedited service, which costs an additional $60 and took anywhere from a few days to three weeks before Covid-19, can now take up to 12 weeks. Americans who require passports more quickly than the current processing times allow must show proof of imminent travel within 72 hours of their appointment.
And finding an appointment is just as hard. People across the country are taking whatever is available, even if it means a long drive, or an expensive flight. NYT gives examples of people driving over nine hours, or flying from Chicago to Seattle.