Passport applications in the United States have increased dramatically in recent years, causing many applicants to wait months before receiving their documents.
The State Department had a hard time keeping up with the influx of international visitors until lately. This change in attitude toward international travel has occurred during the past year or so. There is no longer the same level of disinterest in travel as was present during and immediately following the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The State Department announced this week that processing times for passports have been shortened once again since the beginning of last month.
Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have called on State Department officials to try to reduce the massive backlog of passport applications and the lengthy wait times that many individuals have faced over the past several months.
Some lawmakers have even proposed that legislation is necessary to address the problem.
However, on Monday, the State Department reported that passport processing timeframes had been shortened to seven to ten weeks. The wait time was as much as eight to eleven weeks as recently as last week.
According to department officials, the processing time for expedited passport applications has been reduced from five to seven weeks to three to five weeks.
On Monday, the State Department said that a record 24 million passport cards and books had been issued during the previous fiscal year. As stated in the announcement, “as more Americans are traveling internationally again, we are directing resources to meet the unprecedented demand seen so far in 2023.”
There was a significant backlog in passport applications earlier in the year, increasing processing times to as much as 10–13 weeks. It took as long as seven to nine weeks, and that was for rush orders.
That’s a major problem for many vacationers, many of whom don’t have the time to arrange overseas excursions months in advance. That’s especially true, as it’s close to impossible to schedule overseas travel without having a valid passport in hand.
Since the passport application process might take up to 13 weeks, a person planning an international trip may need to know their destination at least four or five months in advance.
As a result of citizens informing them and lawmakers hearing complaints, many took notice.
Many constituents of Republican Senator Marco Rubio, whose district includes Miami International Airport, have called his office to complain about the lengthy passport application process. The airport in Miami is one of the busiest in the United States for international flights.
During that moment, Rubio stated:
“I get it – a lot of people didn’t travel during COVID, their passports expired, now they realize it and they’re trying to get on it, but it’s been incredibly disruptive.”