Traveling Internationally Soon? Here's Why You Should Renew or Apply for a New Passport ASAP

The U.S. State Department is currently processing 500,000 passports a week.

<p>Mehroz Kapadia</p>

Mehroz Kapadia

Travelers looking to get or renew a passport will most likely experience a major delay as the State Department is currently processing hundreds of thousands applications.

“We’ve had an unprecedented demand for renewed travel,” United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said during a hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday, who noted that the state department is currently processing 500,000 passport applications a week — which is 30 to 40 percent higher than last year.

Blinken’s testimony also revealed the behind-the-scenes work being done to shorten the turnaround time including an “intense effort” and full-time operation to build back the workflow to enable a smoother processing of both passport and visa requests. The State Department has also launched a task force, opened several satellite offices, and hired staff to increase capacity & phone lines.

The State Department's website shares the current passport processing time is 10 to 13 weeks for the routine service, and 7 to 9 weeks for the expedited service, and has encouraged individuals who are planning an international trip to to apply or renew a passport as quickly as possible.

One of the most promising updates was provided about the new online renewal pilot which was first announced last year, where travelers can renew their passport online. Over 500,000 passports are currently in the renewal phase via the online portal, according to the State Department.

New applications to the online portal have since been halted as the office learns from the process t o scale it for the future. Blinken shared he doesn’t see why more people shouldn’t be able to renew their passports online without the hassle of going into a passport center, and that 65% of passports could eventually be processed online in the future.

Last year, the U.S. State Department processed a record-setting 22 million passports, and early indications forecast that 2023 could exceed that amount.

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