In 2024, U.S. Passports Will Be Processed Faster Than They Have Been in Years

The pandemic stretched passport wait times to new extremes—up to several months. Nearly four years later, they’ve finally returned to normal.

Two people holding up two U.S. passports with a European city in the background

Your ticket to travel the world is now easier to obtain.

Courtesy of Global Residence Index/Unsplash

The pandemic did a number on passport processing times. After a lengthy stretch of being forced to let our international travel documents gather dust, borders reopened and U.S. travelers were able to crisscross the globe anew. But the State Department struggled to keep up with the subsequent surge in demand for new and renewed U.S. passports.

Passport wait times have yo-yoed up and down ever since but never quite reached the speed at which they were processed prior to the pandemic—that is, until now. Just before the holidays, on December 18, the State Department announced that wait times to renew or get a new U.S. passport have finally returned to “our pre-pandemic norm.”

Standard passport applications will now be processed within six to eight weeks, and expedited passport applications will be processed within two to three weeks, according to the State Department.

“With this update, we have fulfilled our commitment to return to benchmarks from March 2020,” the State Department said in a release about the updated processing times.

The goalpost has not been an easy one to reach considering the growth in the number of U.S. citizens seeking to obtain a U.S. passport—a trajectory that goes far beyond the rebound in travel following the pandemic. According to the State Department, more than 160 million valid U.S. passports are now in circulation; that’s nearly double the amount in 2007, when there were little more than 82 million in circulation. Today, 48 percent of U.S. citizens hold a valid passport, compared to 5 percent in 1990.

“This past year, the Department experienced unprecedented demand for passports. Between October 2022 and September 2023, the Department of State issued over 24 million passport books and cards—the highest amount ever in our nation’s history,” the agency stated.

Even as passport processing times reach the lowest they have been in nearly four years, the State Department advises U.S. travelers heading overseas to get or renew their passports early.

Currently, renewing a U.S. passport must be done in person or by mail. While an online renewal option became temporarily available in 2022, the pilot program was paused in February 2023. You can obtain a passport application and the latest U.S. passport processing information at The cost for a new passport for adults is $130 plus a $35 acceptance fee ($165 total); the cost for a renewal for adults is $130; and the cost for a new passport for children 16 and under is $100 plus a $35 acceptance fee ($135 total). To expedite a passport there’s an additional fee of $60.

The State Department notes that the processing time begins 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 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.

If U.S. residents have urgent international travel plans within 14 calendar days or a life-or-death emergency and must travel within 3 business days, the State Department 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.

Michelle Baran is a deputy editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.
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