If you’ve been reading my newsletters, you’re well aware I have bad passport luck. Last month I lost my passport moments before going through customs. (Luckily it was recovered very quickly.) What’s next, I try to make it through with an expired one?
After checking the dates on my passport twice, I’m in the clear for the next couple of years, but you might not be. Travelers planning to go abroad this summer are being advised by the State Department to renew their passports now due to longer wait times.
According to a Tweet from the department, routine passport service is currently taking eight to 11 weeks, while expedited service will set you back five to seven weeks and cost an additional $60. However, these estimates only cover processing time and do not include mailing time, which could add several more weeks.
Wait times fluctuate throughout the year, and are unsurprisingly longer when demand is high. With spring break and summer travel plans mounting, the department is struggling to keep up. “Please know that our processing times fluctuate and are based on the date you apply,” Tweeted the department. “If you applied when the timeframe was 3-5 weeks, then we would honor that timeframe.”
But some Twitter users noted that they’re not seeing such an honor system come to fruition. “It has been 11 weeks and status is still in process. What happens if it goes past the standard processing time?! I did everything right!” said one Tweet.
The State Department replied by suggesting that they continue to monitor the status with their MyTravelGov account, and if the traveler reaches 14 calendar days before their date of travel, they should call 1-877-487-2778.
A lot of the issues customers are experiencing are the result of a faulty online passport renewal option, which was previously introduced as a pilot program last year. Until the program is back up and running, travelers must apply for a passport by mail. When the program is resumed, it will only be available to individuals who are at least 25 years old, have a previous passport that was valid for 10 years, and whose old passport was issued between nine to 15 years ago.