Need a New U.S. Passport? Don’t Delay, Wait Times Have Climbed

If you have international travel coming up and need to get a new passport or renew an expired one, hop to it. Processing times are creeping up again due to a surge in demand.

Navy blue U.S. passport book

Know what to expect when it comes to how long it takes to get a new U.S. passport.

Photo by Shutterstock

Last year, the U.S. State Department processed 21,995,760 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, with the standard processing period now 8 to 11 weeks, according to the latest update from the State Department. While this is a shorter duration than in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, when the process stretched out for months, it’s still longer than even in January, when a routine passport application ranged from 6 to 9 weeks.

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), and the current expedited processing time is 5 to 7 weeks.

The State Department notes that “processing times begin the day we receive your application at a passport agency or center, not the day you mail your application or apply.” The actual mailing times “may add several weeks on to the door-to-door time it takes to receive your passport.” Passport applicants can therefore 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 a different charge from 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.

Chris Dong is a freelance travel writer and editor with a focus on timely travel trends, points and miles, hot new hotels, and all things that go (he’s a proud aviation geek and transit nerd).
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