Anxiety over passports is growing for overseas travelers

Getting a U.S. Passport could take months due to delays in processing.
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 4:15 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Anxiety is growing among people who are planning to travel overseas this summer. Travel experts say passports are taking longer to get back due to a spike in demand.

Eduardo Lopez of North Carolina is a seasoned international traveler.

“I travel to Canada, to Mexico, to Italy, just depending on where we need to go,” he says.

Though Lopez is familiar with the ins and outs of travel, the wait time to get his passport renewed this year caught him by surprise. He had to drive 5 ½ hours to a passport agency to get it done in time.

“I needed it expedited,” he said. “If I would have waited, I think it would have been about two months, and I can’t have that.”

Blaming record-high demand, the U.S. State Department has extended expected passport processing times to 10 to 13 weeks for routine service, and seven to nine weeks for expedited. That does not include mailing time, which could add a few weeks.

Passport wait times are getting longer, and travel agents say it'll only get worse as peak summer travel nears.

“Before this level, you could get a passport in 4 to 6 weeks or 2 to 4 weeks,” said Brian Ortner with AAA.

Things are expected to get worse before getting better. The State Department expects an even greater increase in demand this spring and summer, meaning possibly longer delays.

For people planning overseas travel this summer, Ortner offers this advice.

“I would say start now,” he said. “I would say that three-month average that we’re seeing right now.”

Lopez takes those words to heart. He’s traveling to Spain with his wife and kids next year, and they’re not wasting any time.

“We’re in the process of getting her passport and my kids right now so we have that by next year,” Lopez said.

Travel experts also advise ensuring your application is filled out correctly, or you could face even longer delays.