How to book your last minute passport renewal appointment online

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People who need to renew their passports immediately will not be allowed to make last-minute appointments online, the US State Department said Thursday.

These last-minute appointments, intended for people with urgent travel needs, can now only be scheduled by phone, the department said.

The reason for the change? It is intended to solve “the problem of third parties taking all available appointments using robots and then selling them to applicants with urgent travel needs,” the department said in a statement posted on its website. Some appointments sold by third parties cost up to $ 300, USA Today reported.

The ministry said the change was “temporary” but did not say when booking these appointments online could resume.

Appointments can be made by calling the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday. “The wait times to reach a customer service representative can be long,” the department said on its website. “Last minute in-person appointments are still extremely limited. “

Last-minute appointments are generally limited to people who need to travel for life-or-death emergencies, State Department officials said in a statement earlier this month. Americans seeking passports for non-essential travel are offered “very limited appointments” and are required to present documents indicating that their travel takes place within 72 hours, the department said.

Thursday’s announcement came about 16 months after pandemic lockdown restrictions began to force many people to abruptly abandon travel plans.

The pandemic also led the State Department to significantly reduce its passport operations in March 2020 to protect its staff from contracting Covid-19, the department said. This led to the expiration of hundreds of thousands of US passports.

Now, as travel restrictions ease in Europe, Canada and elsewhere, a number of these passports have yet to be renewed. And government officials are still working on the backlog.

Ned Price, a spokesperson for the State Department, said Monday that the department had increased the number of workers dealing with the passport backlog. “We are doing everything we can and will continue to look for ways to research and be able to expedite the processing of passports.”

Routine passport service by mail can take up to 18 weeks, according to the ministry’s website. (This includes up to 12 weeks for “processing” and up to six weeks for dispatch, according to the site.) Before the pandemic, this service could take six to eight weeks.

The expedited passport service, which costs an additional $ 60, can now take up to 12 weeks, compared to before the pandemic, when it took anywhere from a few days to three weeks. A same-day expedited passport costs $ 170, with an additional $ 35 for new applicants.


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