The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the entire worldwide travel industry. Even if you don’t work in travel, you can still be affected. Not only is it extraordinarily challenging to fly internationally, but if you need government documents to fly, it’s been a long waiting game.
If you’re in the midst of a Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST application, you need to set up an interview at a Trusted Traveler enrollment center. Unfortunately, those have been closed since March and their reopening has just been delayed again.
But what if all you want is a passport? That should be simple, right?
Since March 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of State will only offer in-person service at passport agencies or centers, and only for customers with a qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours.
But some people don’t know that, or they’re impatient because they’re supposed to go on a cruise in July, or a wedding in another country in August, or if nothing else they just want their birth certificate back in the interim. So they decide to do something drastic.
You always hear about people suggesting someone “contact their Representative,” but I don’t know if I ever knew anyone who actually did.
Now I do.
Well, sort of. It wasn’t anyone I actually knew – more like a colleague of a colleague of a friend. But this person apparently wanted his/her passport, so they contacted their Congressman. Here’s the reply they got:
Thanks for writing to our office with your concerns about passports. I totally understand and share your frustrations.
I just got off a conference call with the U.S. State Department regarding passports and want to share the information that I obtained on the call.
The Passport Agency plans to open in 3 stages.
Currently, we’re in Phase 1. Only life-or-death emergencies passports are being processed. If you have a life or death emergency, call 1-877-487-2778, After hours: 202-647-4000.
Backlog: 1.6 million applications and growing. An average of 9,000 daily applications.
APPLICANTS WAITING: Significant delays
NEW APPLICANTS : Expect disrupted summer travel plans.
Level 4: Global Health Advisory, no expedited service and no processing time commitment for routine service.
Phase 2 will be limited emergency services as well.
Phase 3 will be normal processing.
There is no time frame for the phases. I hope this information is helpful.
Not really the news anyone wants to get, I’m sure.
Granted, it’s not really “news” if you’ve been keeping an eye on the U.S. Dep’t of State’s website. But those numbers? They have a backlog of 1.6 million passports and are getting an average of 9,000 more per day? With no end of the pandemic in sight. That’s pretty staggering.
Actually, not even. Back in mid-2007, there was a backlog of 2 million passports that had to be addressed. But if (if? Ha!) this pandemic goes on for another 50 days, we’ll blow that 2 million out of the water, easy peasy lemon squeezy. I suspect that when they finally do get to Phase 3, they’re going to have a backlog like no backlog has ever been seen before.
*** Many thanks to Darlene K. for her assistance with this post
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary
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Hence the reason it pays to actually know your representative or senator or at least his chief of staff. Then you wouldn’t get a response such as that. You would get a Passport. I have never received a response like that when I have made a request, but I only make a request when I actually need something – which is about twice a decade.
I admittedly don’t know who made the request, who they did or didn’t know, and who they made the request to.
But you’re probably right in that it helps to “know people.”
We jsut had a congressman help us with the passport. From the first day we contacted them to the time we received the passport was 5 days.
Yeah, now it’s more of a reality. Back in May 2020, when this article was written, not so much 😉
Did you have any sort of emergency reason for needing the passport? Or just a vacation? Wondering if they only would help in “life or death” emergency travel situations….
As you can see, this post was written during the early days of COVID. There ARE ways to get a passport within 24-72 hours, for emergencies and other “life or death” situations, without even using your local government officials. It just was “different” in May, 2020.
how did you go about contacting them or finding the contact information? I need my new passport for a job I am applying for.
I don’t know for sure, but I’d think that going to their website would be a good start?
hello I expedited my son passport and its been more than 6 weeks I Have not recieve it and have a urgent travel in 3 weeks . when i call im getting conflicting messages from representatives im being told a letter was send out to me then im being told no letter is sent out and it’s still in process . im very confused and i want to know if i contact the senator of NYC will i get help. when i look to make an appointment at a passport agabey there is non available and when you call your waiting at least 3 hrs on the phone if any one can tell me what to do i appreciate it
Hi Nessa and thanks for writing. I’m very sorry to hear about your situation. Unfortunately, we don’t have the answers to your questions – we’re only travel bloggers who report on things we see or experience. I know there are FAQs on the government’s passport website – https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/need-passport/status.html.html Hopefully that can help?Good luck!
I just sent an email to my congressman. Wish me luck!!
Best of luck to you! Heads up that this post is over 2.5 years old – lots of things have changed since then. 😉