Turn to Tara: How to deal with the backlog of passport renewals
An "unprecedented backlog" for passport renewals has left families all across the tri-state in vacation limbo.
The Turn to Tara team finds out why the passport renewal process has turned into a nightmare for so many post-pandemic travelers.
Sara Morrow was only days away from her family trip to Antigua last month, when she found out her oldest daughter's passport was not going to arrive on time for their getaway despite applying for a renewal months ago.
After making several calls to the National Passport Information Center, the Morrows were able to get an appointment to get the passport in Philadelphia, so they were able to avoid a costly cancellation of their trip.
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With four decades in the industry, travel agent Michele Weiss says she's never seen anything like it.
"People are calling me up very upset because they've already paid for their trip," Weiss says.
That's because, right now, the processing time for a passport is up to 13 weeks from the day you submit your application, and that doesn't even factor in the delivery time, which could add several more weeks to your wait.
The expedited service, which costs an extra $60, is up to nine weeks.
The timing of the backlog couldn't be worse, with demand for post-pandemic travel soaring. According to the U.S. Travel Association, 52% of Americans plan on taking vacation in the next six months.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was grilled about the government's struggles at a House appropriations budget hearing just two weeks ago.
"We're getting 500,000 applications a week for a passport. That's 30 to 40% above last year. So it's dramatic," Blinken said.
Blinken says they've increased staff, opened satellite officers and authorized overtime. Until the demand dies down, here's some ways you can avoid getting stuck:
- Apply for your passport renewal at least four months before your trip.
- Some travelers have had luck contacting local members of Congress.
- You can also try calling the National Passport Information Center over and over until you get an appointment - 1-877-487-2778.