State Department Receiving 500,000 Passport Applications Weekly

US Passport Wait Times Are Now 10-13 Weeks

Americans are gearing up for more travel this year. But if you plan to travel internationally, give yourself some extra time if you need to get a passport. The U.S. State Department is facing “unprecedented demand” for passports based on remarks from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday.

“We’re getting 500,000 applications a week for a passport. That’s 30 to 40% above last year, so it’s dramatic,” Blinken responded to a question about extended wait times for U.S. passport renewals and visa applications during a House Appropriations subcommittee budget hearing.

A record number of 22 million passports  were issued in fiscal year 2022. Blinken said the State Department is “on track to break” that record in 2023 and they are boosting staffing and resources dedicated to processing passport and visa applications. The department cut back on staff during the height of the pandemic.

Blinken said the standard processing time for a passport currently “takes about 10 to 13 weeks” and an expedited request takes roughly “seven to nine weeks.” But the actual time is even longer than that, because the clock starts when the application is received. Mailing time may take up to 2 weeks each way, adding up to another month to the process. The department is encouraging customers to check the status of their passport application and sign up for updates via email.

In 2022, the State Department launched an online renewal pilot. “We expect that 65% of renewal customers for passports will be able to do so online once this program is fully up and running on the visa side,” Blinken said. 

Delay times for visas have also started to recede, Blinken said. Global wait times are two months in most places, about half of what it was a year ago.

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