Passport applications currently take up to 18 weeks to process, and the State Department says it will “take time” before this long waiting period is reduced.
The State Department is currently between 1 and a half million to 2 million applications late, which is “slightly higher” than normal, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Passport Services Rachel Ard told reporters on Sunday.
“We as a department continue to recover from the effects of COVID-19 as we work to meet the demand for passports as U.S. citizens increasingly seek to travel abroad,” Arndt said. “However, pandemic disturbances continue to fluctuate at all stages of the passport process, including the time required to process a passport application.”
He added: “US citizens wishing to travel abroad this summer and do not currently have a passport may need to make alternative travel plans.”
Anyone wishing to renew their passports is currently considering waiting times of up to 18 weeks (12 weeks for processing and up to six weeks for shipment), according to the Foreign Ministry. Express service, which costs an additional $ 60, takes up to 12 weeks (up to six weeks to process and up to six weeks to ship).
Travelers can also choose to pay an additional $ 17.56 for a one- to two-day delivery to return their completed passport.
Aside from the long waiting times, Ard said last minute appointments are “extremely limited”. These personal appointments are available for life or death emergency services and emergency travel services.
Ard said the State Department is “raising our staff” to manage implementation delays.
The State Department has agreed to honor expired passports for Americans living abroad who want to return to the United States by the end of the year.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When not in New York, she enjoys spending time on the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
This story originally appeared on travelandleisure.com