Passport delays, what's the deal?
September 1, 2023 | View PDF
Airlines are seeing international travel peak this summer with families feeling comfortable traveling internationally with the COVID pandemic slowing down. Many countries have reopened in 2023, including the tourist hot spot of Japan. With these compounding factors, the U.S. State Department is experiencing a higher demand for passports which is causing delays and heartache for would-be travelers. As with anything in high demand, someone will find a way to take advantage.
What’s led to this influx in passport applications?
During the COVID pandemic, many individuals let their passports expire – travel was limited. Now that more borders are reopening, both new applicants and renewing applicants are acting at once. Earlier this year the U.S. State Department reported receiving the most applications ever in one week after collecting 500,000 submissions.
Another factor is that individuals who are under the age of 16 at the time their passport is issued must renew their passport after only five years. This differs from travelers who are 16 and older – their passports are only required to be renewed every 10 years. Since some individuals need to submit documents more often, the system may experience more congestion.
How long will it take to get a passport in your hands?
The latest update from the U.S. State Department stated that routine processing times are taking 10 to 13 weeks, while expedited applications can be completed in seven to nine weeks. There is also a two-week window on either side of these processing timelines for the documents to arrive at the U.S. State Department and to then receive your passport once mailed to you.
Bad actors and fake passport websites
So far this year, Better Business Bureau has received 264 reports to our Scam Tracker that mention the word “passport.” What’s happening here is bad actors are setting up official-looking websites to sell passports that simply don’t exist, and they aren’t authorized or even capable of making these documents.
Individuals have reported to BBB that they lost money using websites they found through an online search or on social media. They filled out a form and paid a processing fee. They thought they were on a government website because it looked official. But it wasn’t. And to make matters worse, these fake websites often collected applicants’ Social Security Numbers and other personal information. Giving up that personal information is worse than losing a few hundred dollars in a one-time transaction.
What can you do?
Consider submitting for a passport now whether you need it or not, just in case travel comes up. Even if you don’t have any plans to travel internationally, it’s best that you play the waiting game now while you don’t need a passport, instead of a month out from a trip.
As with any government document, only use official government websites to gather information on passports and submit documents. Ensure you are visiting websites ending in “.gov” like https://travel.state.gov. You can visit travel.state.gov to find up-to-date information on processing times and to learn how to submit for your passport. You can also head over to http://www.BBB.org/travel to stay on top of all the latest information and helpful tips for your upcoming vacation.
Logan Hickle is a PR and communications manager at BBB Great West and Pacific.