Applying for and renewing a passport takes time, and when you wait until the last minute — or forget completely — things get complicated fast. Those passport horror stories are about to get a little more common and potentially more dramatic after an official change in passport processing time by the agency that issues U.S. passports.
According to the Washington Post, the State Department’s Passport Services agency said it would now take between six and eight weeks to process a passport application. Before May 31, processing a passport application took four to six weeks.
State Department officials provided information indicating that a lack of staff was to blame for the added processing time, the Post reported.
In 2017 and 2018, a record number — over 21 million passports and passport cards — were issued each year, but the number of passport specialists employed by the government has dropped by 14 percent since January 2017, the Post reported.
A State Department official told the Post, “To address high passport workload levels this summer, the Department is leveraging all available resources to ensure processing times do not rise further and that they return to lower levels by September.”
Travelers who are planning on applying for or renewing their passports this summer or early fall should plan on allowing the State Department eight weeks to process their paperwork. Those who are tight on time can pay an additional $60 and get their passport in two to three weeks. For an even faster turnaround, a visit to a passport agency or center is required.
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