Between October 2022 and September 2023, the U.S. State Department issued more passports in a single year than ever before in the history of the country—some 24 million. And getting all those passports into the hands of travelers has, at times, been a challenge.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, a surge in demand for international travel coupled with short-staffed passport processing centers meant that the time it took to get a new or renewed passport got stretched out. Earlier in 2023, the standard processing time had crept up to between 10 and 13 weeks.
But now, for the second time in two months, the processing times have come down again, bringing them almost back to the prepandemic norms of 6 to 8 weeks. Last month, the wait times came down to between 8 to 11 weeks for routine service and 5 to 7 weeks for expedited service.
As of November 6, any passport applications submitted for new or renewed booklets or cards will be processed within 7 to 10 weeks for routine service and within 3 to 5 weeks for expedited service, according to the latest update from the State Department.
The agency reminds applicants that processing times begin when the application is received at a passport agency or processing center and that wait times do not include mailing periods, which can add up to two weeks on either end of the process. The standard passport application fee is $130, plus a $35 execution fee for first-time applicants. The fee for expedited service is an additional $60, not including the extra cost of rushed shipping.
What’s bringing the processing times down further? “We are aggressively recruiting and hiring across our passport agencies and centers. Our passport team members nationwide contribute tens of thousands of hours of overtime a month to issue the millions of passports sought by traveling Americans,” the State Department said in its update. And, it adds, “We have opened a satellite office to help process the large number of applications we are receiving.”
Clearly, the extra effort is working. For travelers who might need a refresher on how to apply for a passport, here’s our step-by-step guide on applying for a new passport and on renewing an expired passport, as well as how to ensure you get a passport appointment and how to get a passport in a hurry.