By: Casey Carr
A lot of people need passports right now.
We’ve seen several instances this year of people realizing their passports are about to expire, or are not valid for 6 months past the date of their planned return from vacation, as required by many countries. They’ll send off a renewal application with expedited service, which normally takes 3 weeks. 6 weeks later when they still have no passport, and with their departure date rapidly approaching, they call us in a panic.
Everything is delayed right now, so this probably comes as no surprise to many of you. At the moment, the State Department has a 6 week “In Process” time, that is time that your application has been received, and is sitting on a shelf awaiting it’s turn. With rampant mail delays since last July thrown in the mix, an “expedited” application can take 12 weeks. A standard application, up to 18 weeks. Via travel.state.gov
Compounding this problem, is the fact that many passport offices remain closed, agencies are short staffed and gettting an appointment anywhere close to you is all but impossible.
I had two friends in the exact scenario described above last month. No way to get an appointment anywhere in Texas, but people were having success at the passport office in Hot Springs, Arkansas, so that’s where I sent them. It worked, but there is only so much time before everyone else discovers Hot Springs and they have to tighten up as well.
If your passport is expiring in the next year, or if you need to apply for a new one, my advice is to get started right now. These wait times aren’t going to get better anytime soon, and they could get worse.
You can fill out your passport application online at the State Department Website. If you already have a passport & need to renew, CLICK HERE for step by step instructions. The fee is $110, which you may pay by personal check. Passport renewals can be done by mail.
If you need a passport, and dont already have one, CLICK HERE for step by step instructions. The fee is again $110, plus a $35 execution fee. New passport applicants must apply in person at a passport acceptance facility.
Use a Passport Service
Sharon and I both applied for passport renewals a couple of weeks ago, and ended up paying extra to use a service. Our friends at Universal Passports & Visas here in Dallas have never let us down, they walk you through the process, and if anyone can expedite things a little bit they can. A reopening is anticipated for later this month for a few more passport offices, and if that happens they’ll have even more options. Universal Passports website can be a bit confusing to be honest, but they do a great job and are available by phone also at (214)739-3400.
If you’re worried that you wont receive your passport before your trip, using a passport service is a must, they’ll be honest with you about how soon you’ll get it back.
My best advice, even if you aren’t planning to travel soon, is to get it all done now so you don’t have to worry and can be poised to jump on an international trip whenever you want!