Getting a passport has been a major headache for Americans in 2023, with far longer passport wait times leaving travelers stressed or scrambling before an international trip. But there's finally some relief.
After stretching out to three-plus months amid record demand for passports this, the timeline to get a passport – or renew an expiring one – is finally improving. As of Monday, Oct. 2, the U.S. State Department now estimates it will take 8 to 11 weeks for routine processing or five to seven weeks for expedited service, which costs an additional $60, according to the latest update. Those timelines don't include shipping, which can add several more weeks.
Still, it's down from the peak this summer, when federal officials advised a standard application could take up to 13 weeks – or up to nine weeks even for expedited service. At its worst, the State Department actually recommended applying at least six months before a trip or passport's expiration date.
Before the pandemic, the official guidance was a six-to-eight week turnaround time for routine passport application or renewal.
As international travel demand soared this year, so did the demand for passports. The State Department has been dealing with an unprecedented surge of passport applications and renewals this year, and they're still on track to set a new record.
But even those who heeded the federal government's advice to apply for a new passport – or renew an expiring one – well in advance of international travel often found themselves waiting for their new passports just days before their trip abroad. Travelers have reported long wait times on the phone, paying additional fees for expedited service or rushed delivery, or even booking additional flights to get to a passport agency with scarce in-person appointments – if they could find one at all. Many even turned to members of Congress for help.
It's unclear what's behind the improved passport processing timelines. A State Department representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.