Longer US Passport Processing Times Expected Due to Unprecedented Demand

The US Department of State has updated the processing times for U.S. passport applications, effective March 24. According to the announcement, routine processing will take between 10 and 13 weeks, while expedited processing, which costs an additional $60, will take between 7 and 9 weeks. It is important to note that these processing times apply only to new applications submitted on or after March 24, and the processing time starts from the day the application is received, not including mailing time.

The State Department has attributed the increased processing time to an “unprecedented demand” for passports, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealing that the department has been receiving 500,000 passport applications each week, representing a 30-40% increase compared to last year. Despite the cyclical nature of passport application demand, Blinken said that the department is experiencing a full-time busy season.

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To manage the increased demand, the department has hired additional staff, authorized overtime, opened satellite offices, and established a task force at headquarters. It has also launched a pilot online renewal platform to enable Americans with existing passports to renew online, with Blinken saying that once the program is fully up and running, 65% of renewal customers will be able to renew their passports online.

The State Department has urged US citizens to check the expiration date on their passports and renew them now if they are planning international travel this year. Additionally, it has encouraged all US citizens traveling overseas to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which enables them to receive important updates and alerts about their destinations and allows the department to assist in case of emergencies.