Waiting for your passport? State Department says passport processing picking up, reducing waits

Friday, October 6, 2023
Passport processing picking up, reducing waits says State Department
A post-pandemic surge in travel overwhelmed the State Department's passport processing. Now the agency says they're reducing passport wait times.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The State Department is always busy issuing passports, but now it is busier than ever before.

"We had the most passports issued this last fiscal year that we've ever seen in our history," says Jared Tharp, a community relations program analyst from the U.S. Department of State. "24 million passport books and cards were issued this last fiscal year. And a lot of it really did have to do with demand. A lot more people were applying for their passports this year and traveling."

That caused the system to bog down, and 7 On Your Side heard from a record number of travelers over the past couple of years needing help

Travelers like the East Bay's David Yandell. He and his wife each paid an extra $60 for expedited service.

"We didn't want to miss this occasion," David Yandell said. "It was very important to us and to our family. And it worked fine for Rosie. It didn't work at all for me."

Well, now the State Department is getting on top of the workload and receiving a passport is happening more quickly.

"As of October second, we were able to reduce our passport processing times by two weeks," Tharp said. "So now for routine service, you could expect it to take eight to 11 weeks, and for expedited service you could expect that to take five to seven weeks."

That is time enough for many to get a passport before holiday travel -- if they get moving. By January, processing time should be at pre-pandemic levels.

"By the end of the year we can get back to times like we had in 2019, which was six to eight weeks for routine, and two to three weeks for expedited service," Tharp said.

If your application seems stuck in limbo, you can go to the State Department's online passport tracker and look up the status at www.passportstatus.state.gov

Main website for information about U.S. passports: www.travel.state.gov

National Passport Information Center: 1-877-487-2778 (press 3)

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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