Home Travel Good News/Bad News For Getting A Passport (Updated June, 2021)

Good News/Bad News For Getting A Passport (Updated June, 2021)

by SharonKurheg

The State Department updated its website the other day, and if you need to get a passport, there seems to be some good news and some bad news. I’ll start with the bad news.

The Bad News

The time to get your passport appears to have increased considerably. In January 2020, it was 6-8 weeks and in April 2021 it was 10-12 weeks, the State Department’s website is now saying it could take upwards of 18 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received.

That’s four and a half months. Yowsa!

They explain on their web page that the 18 weeks includes up to 12 weeks for processing and up to 6 weeks for mailing times on the front and back end. However, the approximated times quoted in January 2020 and April 2021 also included mail time.

Here’s what the State Dep’t says, as of June 15th:What is the current status of passport operations?

What to Expect:

  • Mail delays are impacting when we receive passport applications for processing. Our processing times begin the day we receive your application, not the day you mail it.
  • Routine service can take up to 18 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received. The 18-week timeframe includes up to 12 weeks for processing and up to 6 weeks for mailing times on the front and back end.
  • Expedite service (for an additional $60) can take up to 10 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received. The 10-week timeframe includes up to 6 weeks for processing and up to 4 weeks for mailing times on the front and back end.

Our processing times (up to 12 weeks for routine; up to 6 weeks for expedite) do not include mailing times. Mail times vary and delays have been significant. Plan ahead.

We suggest you:

  • Send your application to us via trackable mail, so you can track your application before it enters our system. This can be done whether applying at an acceptance facility or by mail.
  • Pay an extra $17.56 for 1-2 day delivery for the return of your completed passport.

More about Status Updates: It may take up to 6 weeks from the day you submit your application until your status is “In Process.” During these 6 weeks, your application is delivered to a mail facility, your payment is processed, and your application is entered into our system. Even if your passport status update says, “Not Available,” your application and supporting documents are safely on their way to us. Check online for your passport status.

Use Self-Service Tools Online: Our call center is experiencing extremely high call volumes with longer-than-usual wait times. You can get your questions answered immediately by using one of the self-service tools available on our site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. What you see online is the same information that call center representatives can share with you by phone.

Planning to Travel? Apply Early! Apply at least six months before planned travel. Due to limited availability for urgent travel appointments, we cannot guarantee you can receive in-person service at a  passport agency or center. We are prioritizing customers with life-or-death emergencies. Visit our Passport Agency and Center page to learn more.

Renew By Mail:  Adults with 10-year passports can renew them by mail instead of appearing in person.   

Y’all, I know the Post Office is having challenges, but it should not take 3 weeks for something to go even cross country, least of all when it contains my old passport and is therefore sent Priority, insured, certified, registered, return receipt, with tracking and signature confirmation, and I even include a bodyguard, for good measure ;-). Although to their credit, they do recommend paying an extra $17.56 for 1-2 day delivery for the return of your completed passport.

Waiting times for expedited service have also increased. In January 2020, it was 2-3 weeks. In April 2021 it was 4-6 weeks. Now it’s quoted as upwards of 10 weeks, which includes up to 6 weeks for processing and up to 4 weeks for mailing times on the front and back end.

Anybody else wondering how the Post Office knows if a passport application is expedited or not, to help them determine if they should wait 2 versus 3 weeks to get it to where it needs to go? 😉

How accurate is that?

Our friends at Passport Waiting Time are not giving quite as dire of a situation. They say the average wait for a first adult passport is 32.51 days, for a renewed adult passport is 32.04 days, for a child’s first passport is 26.94 days, and if you get expedited service, it takes 15.53 days.

But on the other hand, we’ve gotten feedback from readers who have been waiting 4-5 months for their passports. Others have written and said they received their back in 2-3 weeks, not expedited.

There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for the length of wait. Even more frustratingly, it sounds as if it’s virtually impossible to talk to anyone to find out what’s happening if there is a long delay. So the only advice we can give is if your passport is going to expire and you know you have travel coming up, give yourself PLENTY of time to get a new one.

The Good News

There’s also some good news, at least for those who want to get their first passport.

The State Dep’t is holding special passport fairs across the U.S., “to help you and your family apply for your passport. Most events are for first-time customers and children using Form DS-11 to apply.”

They suggest that if you are eligible to renew your passport, you should do so by mail.

This page of the State Dep’t website lists when and where the passport fairs are. They say the list is continually updated.

Frankly, I think the bad news overshadows the good news this time around. But hopefully, passport processing times will eventually get better. If not, at least we know to give it that extra time, just in case.

Feature Photo: Pixabay

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

2 comments

Jillian July 21, 2021 - 5:58 pm

Sent mine in April 2 for a trip at the end of November and just got confirmation today (end of July) that my processing has begun. USPS confirmed it was delivered April 8th, they state they got it May 7th and it took them until July 21st for processing to begin which takes 12 weeks plus 6 weeks for mailing …

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NewEngland Girl July 23, 2021 - 9:43 pm

There was not information on the state dept website about delays when i got my renewal paperwork ready in late April (for a September trip). so I didn’t think anything about sending it off regular speed. I assumed that almost 5 months would be plenty of time.

I didn’t get acknowledgement that they had received it into the system for 6 weeks, and they said it would be 10-12 weeks to process. That puts it early Sept to be returned to me … so i may not be able to make this trip (which was supposed to go last year and was postponed due to covid. Had it gone on-schedule i would not have needed to renew. Unfortunately the passport runs out a mere 2 weeks too soon for that 6 month post-trip requirement … so UGGGHHHH. i called to try and pay the extra and have it expedited, but when i got through the menu i wasn’t even put on hold. I just got a busy signal.

wishing and hoping and planning and dreaming that i still can make this study tour that i paid for in full a WHOLE YEAR AGO. We shall see how it goes.

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