After years of delays, wait times for US passports are back to normal

There are more than 160 million valid US passports in circulation, according to the US State Department.

There are more than 160 million valid US passports in circulation, according to the US State Department.Shir Torem/ReutersCNN — 

Processing times for passport applications are back to pre-pandemic levels, the US State Department announced on Monday. The return to normal wait times comes after years plagued by delays as the department worked through a backlog caused largely by the coronavirus pandemic.

Processing time for routine service is now six to eight weeks and two to three weeks for expedited service (which costs an additional $60), the department said. The updated times apply for applications submitted on or after December 18.

“With this update, we have fulfilled our commitment to return to benchmarks from March 2020. This reflects the work of dedicated employees working for the American people,” the department said in its announcement.

In 2021, processing times of up to 18 weeks frustrated travelers and caused some Americans to abandon travel plans because their documents would not be received in time. That summer, the State Department said it had a 1.5 to 2 million backlog of applications.

Ad Feedback

The world’s most powerful passports

The return to pre-pandemic processing times comes on the heels of a record-setting federal fiscal year: Between October 2022 and September 2023, the department issued more than 24 million passport books and cards — the highest number in US history.

According to the State Department, only 5% of Americans had a passport in 1990, compared with 48% today.

Currently there are more than 160 million valid passports in circulation — almost double the number from 2007.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *