Last year, the U.S. State Department processed nearly 22 million passports, a record number that’s more than at any point since tallying began in 1974. That trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down in 2023, especially as the busy spring and summer travel season is looming.
U.S. travelers looking to renew or obtain their passport for the first time can expect longer wait times. As of March 24, the standard processing period is now 10 to 13 weeks, according to the latest update from the State Department. Between February 6 and March 23, it had been 8 to 11 weeks, and prior to February 6, the standard processing time was 6 to 9 weeks.
The processing time for expedited passports has also increased and is now 7 to 9 weeks, up from the 3 to 5 weeks it had been as recently as January.
What’s worse is the processing times could still go up (hopefully, they will eventually drop back down).
“We anticipate making additional changes to our processing times later this spring or early summer,” the State Department reports in its latest update. “We are monitoring record-high demand for passports, and project to see that demand continue to increase through the spring and remain high throughout the summer.”
According to the State Department, demand for passports is generally highest from late winter into summer. “We encourage you to plan ahead and apply during our slower season from October through December when processing times are generally faster,” the agency advises.
The cost of passport renewal or a new application for adults is $130. And while it’s possible to upgrade a passport application from routine processing to expedited processing, the additional fee is $60 (for a total of $190 for expedited service).
The State Department notes that processing times begin the day the application is received at a passport agency or center, not the day it is mailed or when the application is submitted. The actual mailing times “may add several weeks on to the door-to-door time it takes to receive your passport,” according to the federal agency.
Passport applicants can choose to pay a one-to-two-day delivery fee, at a cost of $19.53, to receive expedited delivery of an issued passport from a processing center. Note that this is in addition to the $60 expedited processing fee cited above.
If U.S. residents have urgent international travel plans within 14 calendar days, or have a life-or-death emergency and must travel within 3 business days, the State Department also offers an appointment-based service at 26 regional passport agencies. To make an appointment, applicants must call 1-877-487-2778. Walk-ins are not accepted.
Currently, renewing a U.S. passport can only occur in person or by mail. While an online renewal option became temporarily available in 2022, the pilot program was paused in February and is not expected to restart until later in 2023.
This story was originally published on March 2, 2023, and has been updated to include current information.