Waiting Times For Passports Are Increasing. Plan For Two Months – If You Pay Extra

Passport renewals were suffering interminable delays through much of the pandemic, but waits had really reduced recently. It shouldn’t take months for a passport, and certainly shouldn’t take months when you’re paying extra for it not to take months (‘expedited’). But the sad reality is you need the government’s permission to travel abroad, and they’re going to process you on their own timetable.

Sadly things appear to be getting worse again. There’s reportedly a backlog of 80,000 – 100,000 passport requests to be processed, and aviation watchdog JonNYC points out that the estimated time given to process when paying for expedited service has slipped to nearly two months:

Reports are that submissions that don’t include expedited service are taking more than two months currently. Indeed, there are data points on expedited actually taking two months now.

The good news is that if you submitted a passport for renewal and didn’t actually pay extra (and granted, you shouldn’t have to) you can call to convert your application to expedited and pay the fee.

So what if you truly need a passport renewal right away? It’s possible to get emergency expedited service. The State Department makes appointments available for when you’re traveling within 72 hours or 14 days, though you can no longer schedule these online. People were using bots to scoop up all of the appointments and re-sell them for hundreds of dollars.

Scummy? Sure. But so is the inability of the U.S. government to fulfill its basic obligations. If passports are necessary to exercise the right to travel, then the government needs to offer a reasonable process to obtain one. Waiting months while paying extra is not acceptable. Needing a passport to travel is a relatively new idea.

If it’s any consolation, foreigners are treated worse. Those who need a visa have, in some cases, faced wait times of years to get an appointment.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I decided to renew my (expired) passport about a year ago…and to my surprise, it was a pleasant process, handled well by the local agent at my City Hall, and I received my new passport in a mere 2 weeks! Glad I did that, as I plan to travel within a year…

  2. Is this for online renewal or via mail? Both my wife and I used the online renewal option (was under a trial last May when we used it but available to anyone now as I understand it) and we got our passports back in around 3 weeks without being expedited. Mailing takes significantly longer not only due to the mail but then it sits around before being opened and processed while the online option goes right in the queue for review/approval. I am so glad the government FINALLY set up online passport renewal. I’ll never do it any other way.

  3. Just a note that in many cases—barring certain disqualifying conditions— you may be able to renew online. I did so back in Sep 2022 and received my new passport in hand 5 weeks from the date of my submission. Noting that we’re ramping up to the summer travel season, this timeframe may now be longer. Of course, as I write this, I just read that the online site is closed until early March. 🙁

  4. I submitted my passport renewal request with the expedited fee in early January. I received my new one in early February.

  5. I just mailed out my passport renewal and website shows it was received on 2/7/2023 and it is in processing. Let’s see how long it will take to get the passport. I do have a travel plan in late April

  6. I submitted an online renewal on 1/25. It was marked as received on 2/5 and went into ‘review’ status next day. Standard service. Hoping it’s not 2 month from now on as I depart on 4/14…

  7. Sounds like renewals are working better, but the problem is likely to be in the initial applications. At the least I recommend people make sure that if theirs has expired it’s renewed within the grace period (5 years for adults, none for children). Otherwise as you imply order early. You know, this would be a lot easier if the U.S. had not started requiring them for visits just to Mexico and Canada, though one can get NEXUS for the latter. (Cue the snide comments about people slipping in from Mexico–actually in some recent years most undocumented folks came quite legally and just never left, but Europeans flying in don’t make good press.)

  8. Submitted my renewal thru online system on 1/17. Still only showing as received. I then had to make an in person appointment because I have travel coming up. Hold time was 3 hours to make the appointment

  9. I needed an expedited renewal last year. I had to fly to Houston to get it…and I live in DC, which I found ironic. Nevertheless, if you absolutely need it quick, and I always do, there are options but it will cost you far more than the emergency quick fee. You will need to position to any city in the U.S. in order to get an available appointment. (Buffalo and Houston seem to be the sweet spots that often have space)

    Also, to Gary’s thing about people grabbing appointments for resale, as I recall from last year that has been eliminated. I had to go through a primary phone interview to ascertain my legitimacy and share documentation. It’s no longer a thing.

  10. A really messed up system. The government is failing in its duty to its citizens. Not a real shock, but disappointing. My renewal application was marked as received on 1/5. I’m traveling 3-10, so I know I’ll probably need to call to get it expedited. Not sure whether it’s more a matter of indifference or incompetence.

  11. @Gary – my daughter got a passport when she was 14, expired when she was 19. She is now 21 Does she fall under the five year adult grace period as she was adult when it expired?

  12. I mailed my renewal application form and old passport January 13. I paid for expedited service and was happy to get my new passport 3 weeks later. I guess I was lucky!

  13. Or pay nothing extra and get a renewal passport back within less than 2 weeks by applying in-person for in-person pickup at a US embassy/consulate in a city with 3 or more daily non-stop flights to the U.S.

  14. Jason,

    No, she doesn’t benefit from that grace period for DS-82 applicants. If she/you had last applied for her (expiring/expired) passport (or passport card) at the age of 16 or older, then the five year grace period may be relevant.

  15. During the pandemic, both my and my son’s passport expired. I was able to renew online on Dec 20. Since my son is now 19, he had to apply by mail on Dec 22. He just received his passport this week while I’m still “in process”. Not sure why his came back faster as renewing online should be more efficient than snail mail.

  16. I renewed online and it took 9 weeks to receive the passport book. I used the regular service.

  17. My wife recently renewed her passport by mail. The State Department received it on 12/21 (according to the online passport status website) and it was delivered back to us on 2/13. So that worked out to seven and a half weeks.

    By contrast, we applied for passports for our children at the local post office on 12/28. Those were issued and delivered back to us within a month. I was actually rather surprised to see a pair of packages from the State Department so soon, and thought they were rejecting our applications since a toddler has a hard time standing still and making the appropriate facial expression for a passport photo. But nope, there were bona fide U.S. passports in there and now my kids are set for the next five years.

  18. Got my renewed passport one day after my birthday after waiting almost 5 months so of course my Global Entry expired waiting for the new passport to submit for Global Entry renewal.

    Should I even mention that, at the 8th months of waiting for Global Entry to be renewed. Of course, if you renew before expiration you keep your GE Benefits (& TSA Pre) but can’t renew without an unexpired Passport.
    Months of waiting on the US government between the two.

  19. I paid for expedited processing and shipping. Submission date is 1/7/23. Renewal status is currently just “Received”.

  20. Just renewed my minor child’s passport. It was a 4 hour wait at the local passport acceptance place, though that did give us the opportunity to get lunch nearby. We got the new passport in 3 weeks (expedited). Passport card took 4 weeks. Still waiting for the original passport after 5 weeks.

  21. I did it the old fashioned way
    To my local USPS office on Nov 30th and did all of my paperwork, photo, paid etc
    Passport arrived Jan 12th
    43 days total.
    I can live with that.

  22. I submitted mine online on 12/31, with expedited and still online just shows “received”. I did request a larger book and a passport card as well so I’m wondering if that has anything to do with it.

  23. I mailed out my passport renewal 4 weeks ago with expedited service and received it in 3 weeks to the day.

  24. I am so lucky. Website shows US passport received my renewal application on 2/7/2023.
    Guess what? I just received my new passport by USPS mail today (2/16/2023).

    This is insane. It took them only a few days to renew my passport. I didn’t pay extra for expedited service.
    The passport I received is “new generation style passport”. The picture shown on my passport is black and white on the “thick” plastic page. Background is purple ( no more colorful US flag and eagle).

  25. I applied for online renewal of my passport December 5, 2022, received a notice that processing time was ” 6-9 weeks”. It is now Feb 22, 2023. It has been 10 weeks. As I now have a trip coming up very soon, I “upgraded” to “expedited” processing and there is no new update on online status, no feedback from State department and no passport. I just know that “upgrading” has likely compounded the reason for delay and at this point has probably added 5-7 weeks on top of the existing lead time. No one can answer any questions when calling any of the numbers posted on the web site. No explanation. Not even a comment to me that we screwed up. No email to connect with. When I did finally get some one on the phone they had the same information I had, “processing”. I am now out another $200 for the so-called expedited service and have no idea when I will receive my passport. And to cap it off, tonight the web site is in infinite loop of “Sending OTP” with a time out on an Oracle page. Totally horrendous service.

  26. @JW – I suggest you reach out to the office of your US Senator or Representative. For all the negatives said of our politicians they do provide constituent services and can sometimes help in these cases.

    In my case I had to file an amended return in 2020 due to a TurboTax software error and was due a large refund. It was over a year before it was processed and sat in a box in the processing center w no updates and no way to get any info (COVID shutdowns). I finally reached out to my Senator (Thom Tillis-NC) and his office was very helpful in getting an update and moving things along. Shortly thereafter I got my delayed refund. Nothing to lose for you to continue contact one of your congressmen and see if they can help.

  27. AC- your advice was well served. Thank you. I still haven’t got my passport but calling my Senator got me a tracking number at least and I am supposed to have it tomorrow after 86 days of waiting, no information from any one, lots of stress and a lonely finance waiting for me in Taipei. At first the Senator’s office didn’t hear back anything from the passport office, of course. Then when I called to remind them when they said they would have an answer they told me there was a hold up because of a “tax issue”. I then called the IRS and the IRS said there was no such flag on my account and even if there were it would have to be for a very large amount. The IRS picks up the phone on the second ring, but State department isn’t staffed by humans. Finally today the Senator’s office emailed back and said that it was being sent out for printing today. After another 2 hours on hold and 3 transfers one staff person there emailed me a 1 day air tracking number after $250 in fees, 11 weeks wait, what was promised to have been no more than 9. Don’t know if it will go out today or not, but there is some progress, though the online tool still shows it as “processing” rather than shipped.

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