On March 24, the Department of State updated the processing times for U.S. passport applications. Routine processing will now take 10-13 weeks and expedited processing, which costs an additional $60, will take 7-9 weeks. These new processing times, which represent a two-week extension over the processing times announced earlier this month, only apply to new applications submitted on or after March 24. Processing time begins the day an application is received and does not include mailing time.
Processing times are cyclical and rise and fall based on seasonal demand. However, the volume of applications received during periods so far this year has outpaced records set by last year’s volume by more than 30 percent. During some weeks this winter, the Department received more than 500,000 applications, the highest number ever for this time of year, exceeding official projections.
This is the second passport processing update the Department has provided this month. On March 7, it said that it expected to set the record for the highest demand year ever, far surpassing volumes seen during previous surges in demand in 2007 and 2017.
Demand has surged following a marked lull in international travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, during which time many passports would have expired. Travelers have a new found confidence in traveling overseas again and are eager to catch up with their vacation and business travel plans.
The State Department is addressing the increased workload through a number of efforts, including recruiting and hiring across its passport agencies and centers. Passport team members nationwide are also contributing tens of thousands of hours of overtime a month to issue the millions of passports sought by traveling Americans. In addition, a satellite office has been opened to help process the large number of applications.
The State Department urges U.S. citizens to check their passport expiration date and renew now if they are planning international travel this year. In addition, U.S. citizens traveling overseas are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so they can receive important messages about their destinations directly, including timely Alerts and updates to Travel Advisories, and to enable the State Department to assist in an emergency.