With summer around the corner and many spring break trips still to come, those planning to travel abroad are likely remembering that they either need a passport or need to renew their current. If that’s you, it’s time to get on it—now—because massive delays lie ahead.
The current wait time for passport processing is 10-13 weeks, and even expedited passport processing will take seven-nine weeks (and an extra $60). Overall, that’s two weeks more than the previously estimated processing.
So what’s causing the delay? According to The New York Times, Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken explained in a budget hearing that the issue is partially due to COVID-19. In 2020, demand for passports plummeted resulting in employees being let go or re-assigned. The agency is still trying to build back, and they’re attempting to do so at a time when travel demand has increased.
There is something being done about the delay. The office is in the process of hiring processors and a task force has been created to speed things up. However, delays are likely to still persist for a bit longer.
As for recourse if you need to travel soon—like within the next 14 days? Your best bet is to attempt to make an in-person appointment at a passport agency, but even that has proved difficult with limited availability.
If you have plans to travel outside of the United States in the coming weeks, you need to get started on your passport renewal or application now.