DORAL, FL – Passport processing in the U.S. is taking longer than four months, said the State Department. AAA, on the other hand, stated the processing time is three times longer than it was before the pandemic.
This applies even if the traveler pays for expedited service which can take up to 12 weeks, while routine service can take up to 18 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received.
The reason behind this has to do with pandemic-related issues, such as delays in the mail service, and high demand, according to the State Department.
About this, the U.S. Postal Service said since January 1, 2021, it has accepted more than 3.5 million passport applications, compared to the 3.2 million accepted during the same period in FY19. This represents more than 300,000 passports accepted this year than in 2019 when doing a six-month comparison.
“We will continue to work closely with the State Department to address our valued customers questions on any issues regarding the processing of passport applications,” the statement from the postal service says.
In addition to this, the delays in passport processing is also related with ripple effects from the coronavirus pandemic that caused extreme disruptions to the process at domestic issuance facilities and overseas embassies and consulates.
In light of this, AAA advises travelers to start the passport application process far in advance to avoid having trip plans canceled.
“At AAA, we are seeing so many travelers, sometimes entire families, being forced to cancel or postpone their trips because passport processing has taken longer than they anticipated,” said Micki Dudas, Director, AAA, Leisure Travel, to CBS Baltimore. “One of the first questions we are now asking our clients is about the passport status of all travelers.”
The following tips from AAA can help avoid having plans disrupted due to delays in passport processing:
– Check passport status of all the travelers
– Share passport status information with your travel advisor
– Book travels with a return date of at least six months before passport expiration
– Start passport processing as soon as possible when submitting an application for the first time, when the passports have expired or are to expire within 6 months of travel or when passports require a name change.
– Send your passport application via trackable mail.
– Pay an extra fee for 1-2 day delivery for the return of your passport.