NORFOLK, Va. — If you need a passport soon, you better act fast. The delays could be weeks longer than expected, and consumer experts say it's only getting worse.
"I can tell you that for a while there [has been] a long backlog for passport renewals, and especially for new passport issues," said Kevin Brasler with Consumers' Checkbook.
The State Department has processing times broken down into a few categories:
- Regular passport books will take between 10 to 13 weeks, and cost at least $130
- Expedited passports will take between 7 and 9 weeks, plus an extra $60
- There's also urgent travel for people traveling internationally within 9 weeks
- An emergency option is also available for someone dealing with a life-and-death situation and needs to travel internationally within 72 hours
The State Department says these processing times don't include mail time, so it could be longer in some cases.
In March, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there's "unprecedented demand" for passports.
"We're getting 500,000 applications a week for a passport. That's 30 to 40% above last year, so it's dramatic," he said.
Brasler is warning people that they may need to get their passport renewed even if it doesn't expire for months.
"I've seen people at the ticket counter very upset [because they couldn't get through based on their passport. Even though the passport isn't going to expire for a few months], they weren't allowed to travel because it was going to expire within that tourist visa window," Brasler said.
He said to always check the country's requirements before booking.
If you applied in person or renewed by mail, you can check your application status online, but the results might not be available in the first two weeks.
The State Department says they've hired more staff to keep up with the uptick. They've also added customer service lines, authorized overtime and opened satellite offices.