Renewing U.S. passports took months – here’s what you need to know

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Last spring, Tera Wages was eagerly awaiting a trip in mid-July to the Casa Chameleon hotel in Costa Rica when a friend mentioned the US passport renewal process, which suffered delays during the pandemic. Salaries panicked, realizing she hadn’t checked the expiration date on her own passport. “You could have sucked the air out of the room then,” she said.

Indeed, the passports of Wages and his partner had expired during the pandemic. Salaries immediately sent them to the USPS, four weeks before they left, exactly when the US State Department said passport renewals are expected to resume in the spring. But just days before the planned trip, the Alabama-based couple still had no passports, despite Herculean efforts to secure an in-person appointment with an agency through a social worker they had been assigned to. assigned by the office of Congressman Mo Brooks.

“In the end, we realized our case worker wasn’t able to make a difference,” Wages says. “We had spent hours refreshing the page to get appointments, and nothing was becoming available. We decided there was no way [we could still go on the trip]. “

Situations like Wages’ are common right now, with many Americans forced to cancel international travel due to expired passports and a long and frustrating renewal process. While travel agents have always recommended giving the government a few months to process a US passport renewal, the timeline is now much more complicated. Processing times are currently up to three times longer for routine and expedited passport renewal services than before the pandemic.

Due to a huge influx of requests to reopen the world, travelers who need to renew (in person or by mail) will need to allow extra time to do so. The best advice? Check your passport expiration date now, whether you have a trip planned or dreamed about it, and remember that many international destinations require your passport to be valid for six months from the date of return. planned in the United States.

We brought in travel experts to answer common questions about US passport renewals at this time. Read on for tips, including what to do if you have an upcoming trip.

How long do passport renewals currently take?

“We’ve seen varying delays, but in general, the passport renewal process can take anywhere from four to 18 weeks by mail, with in-person meetings even harder to secure,” said John Spence, US president of the tour operator. luxury. Scott dunn. Government passport renewal website says travelers should be prepared to wait up to 18 weeks from the day their mailed passport reaches a processing facility.

Any traveler who can provide proof of a necessary urgent travel, such as life and death emergencies, or can show their trip is within 72 hours, however, have the option of making an in-person appointment, Spence says. “However, we are not counting on it unless it is a last resort,” he adds.

If you are able to get an appointment in person at one of the government offices 26 passport agencies or centers in the country, a passport officer will review your application and possibly issue a passport on the spot, if you are eligible. Or, the agent may ask you to come back at a specific time to receive them, depending on the agency, their workload, and the planned travel date.

Meetings at these centers were so rare, however, and so in demand, that some who were able to secure one began to illegally sell them to other travelers. Wages says that while researching how to get dates online in their attempt to continue their trip to Costa Rica, they found users on Reddit who would post dates for sale – starting at around $ 200 – as soon as possible. that someone canceled or that more places opened.


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