Traveling is exciting, but waing for your passport is a drag. Especially if you are experiencing passport delays. You’ve spent hours researching your destination and booking flights and accommodations, and your passport could take up to 12 weeks. Why does it take so long?
It’s worth noting that when this blog was written (in March 2023), the time of year significantly contributed to longer passport processing times. Spring break is in full swing, and many people are taking advantage of the break to travel abroad. This increase in travel is leading to a surge in passport applications, further contributing to the backlog.
Additionally, with restrictions easing up, more countries are opening up to tourism, increasing demand for passports. Planning and applying for your passport well before your trip, especially during peak travel times like spring break, is essential to avoid passport delays. If you still need to apply for your passport and are planning a trip, consider using an expedited passport service to ensure you receive your passport in time.
Why Do Passport Processing Times Vary? Passport Delays.
The time it takes to receive your passport can vary based on a few factors, including the time of year, the volume of applications received, and the type of passport you’re applying for. Standard processing times used to be 6-10 weeks, but in recent years, it has extended to 8-12 weeks. So, what’s causing these passport delays?
Travel demand has skyrocketed, especially for international travel. According to the U.S. State Department, the demand for passports is up 50% compared to 2019. The increase in demand has led to longer processing times as offices need help to keep up with the influx of applications.
Backlog of Renewals
Many people put off renewing their passports during the pandemic, causing a backlog of renewals. The State Department is currently processing a backlog of nearly 2 million passport renewals. This backlog is causing additional passport delays for new applicants as well.
The State Department is responsible for processing passport applications and issuing passports to U.S. citizens. However, the department may be experiencing staffing shortages due to retirements, resignations, or other reasons. As a result, fewer staff may be available to process passport applications, leading to a backlog and longer processing times.
According to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), staffing shortages have been a long-standing issue at the State Department. The department has had difficulty recruiting and retaining staff due to various factors, including low pay, limited promotional opportunities, and high workloads.
To address the issue of staffing shortages, the State Department has taken steps to increase hiring and streamline the passport application process. For example, the department has implemented online passport renewal services and has expanded the use of mobile passport units to reach more applicants.
Changes to Passport Requirements
Recently, passport requirements have changed, causing confusion and passport delays among applicants. Some of these changes include:
Passport Photo Requirements
In November 2016, the State Department changed its photo requirements for passport applications. Although 2016 was long ago, most people don’t renew their passports for ten years. So, we understand if you need to get up to date.
One significant change is the State Department eliminated glasses in passport photos, previously allowed for medical reasons. However, many applicants were unaware of this change and submitted non-compliant photos, causing passport delays in processing.
Other changes to passport photo requirements include specifications on the size and quality of the photo, as well as requirements for facial expressions and head position.
To avoid delays, it’s important to carefully read the requirements for passport photos and ensure that your photo complies with all specifications.
Impact of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on travel and passport processing. Even though the pandemic is not the sole reason behind passport delays in passport processing, it could still impact the availability of staff and resources, leading to longer processing times.
How to Get an Expedited Passport
If you’re in a hurry to get your passport, there are a few ways to expedite the process.
Avoid Passport Delays: How to Get an Expedited Passport through the Government
You may be eligible for expedited processing if you need your passport sooner than the standard processing time of 8-12 weeks. Expedited processing typically takes 3-6 weeks but can take longer if there are issues with your application. Here’s how to select the expedited option on your application:
- Complete the appropriate application form. If you are applying for a new passport, complete the DS-11 application form. If you are renewing a passport, complete the DS-82 form.
- Collect all required documents, including proof of travel plans if applicable.
- Pay the expedited processing fee in addition to the regular passport fees. The expedited processing fee for a new passport is $60, and for renewal, it is $60 plus the cost of overnight delivery if requested.
- Select the expedited processing option on the application form or envelope.
- Mail the completed application and supporting documents to the address listed on the application form.
- Check the status of your application online or by phone.
The Benefits of Private Expediting Services
While expediting your passport application through the government is possible, the process can still take several weeks, even with the expedited option. That’s why many travelers use private expediting services, such as The Passport Office, which can process your application in as little as three days!
Private expediting services like The Passport Office offer many benefits. First, they can save you time and hassle by handling the application process. Their experienced staff can help ensure that your application is complete and accurate, so you don’t have to worry about making mistakes or omissions that could delay the process.
Another advantage of private services is that they offer faster processing times than the government. These services have paid for expedited processing slots from the government, allowing them to bypass the regular processing queue. The Passport Office has been a trusted name in the passport expediting industry for over 20 years.
While using a private expediting service like The Passport Office may come with additional fees, many travelers find that the peace of mind and convenience of expedited processing is worth the cost. If you have a tight travel schedule or want to avoid the stress of waiting for your passport, consider using a private expediting service for your next application.
Attention all Clearwater, Florida travelers!
We are excited to announce the opening of our newest office in Clearwater, Florida. This location is convenient for residents of the Tampa Bay area and surrounding cities who need expedited passport services.
Our Clearwater office offers many expedited passport services, including processing options! Our experienced staff can help you fill out your application, take your passport photos, and make sure you submit all the necessary documents for processing. We also offer expedited passport renewals, name changes, and child passport applications.
If you need a passport quickly, stop by our Clearwater passport office and let us help you get the passport you need. You can also schedule an appointment ahead of time by calling us or visiting our website.