Passport Agencies around the country closed up shop when COVID-19 first broke out in the States in March and April. This has caused a backlog in new passport applications and renewals way beyond the standard wait time of 6 to 8 weeks. Now travelers are looking at wait times of 15 to 20 weeks for the passport to arrive.
So what does this mean for you? If you are thinking of traveling internationally in the next 6-8 months, and your passport expires within a year from now, send your renewal application in as soon as possible. If you plan to travel internationally in the next 6-8 months and need to apply for a new passport, do so immediately.
Phased Reopening of Passport Agencies and How it Affects You
According to the Department of State on Tuesday, September 8th, a total of 11 passport agencies are operating in Phase Two and 15 agencies are still in Phase One of re-opening.
Every Thursday the Department of State publishes their passport statistics so that the public can keep track of how quickly they are diminishing wait times and how many applicants to expect to see before you. Each week since reopening in June, an estimated 130,000 passports are issued, which is great news! The Department of State believes to be back on track with estimated wait times of 6-8 weeks this fall.
Can I expedite my passport?
No. In March, the State Department temporarily suspended expedited passport processing for customers applying at an acceptance facility or renewing by mail.
Can I apply now?
Yes. You will experience delays before receiving your passport and the return of your citizenship documents such as previous passports, and birth and naturalization certificates. If you need to apply in person (all children under age 16 and first-time applicants), you can apply at acceptance facilities which include post offices, clerk of courts, and libraries.
Can I renew by mail?
Yes, you can still apply by mail.
Will REAL ID still be enforced at airports later this year?
No. Due to COVID-19, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extended the deadline for REAL ID by one year until October 1, 2021. Beginning in October 2021, DHS will require customers to use a REAL ID to fly domestically. For more information on REAL ID, go to DHS’ website.
Information direct from the Department of State