Travel Tips

5 min read

Slash Passport Wait Woes: Insider Tips for Swift Approval

Ever dreamed of jet-setting at a moment's notice? Think again! US passport delays might just make snails smirk. Find out just how much extra time you'll need before your next adventure!

Tobi Miles
April 1, 2023

Vacation plans for many Americans may be up in arms as U.S. passport wait times have recently gone up. Now, it will take up to 13 weeks for U.S. passport officials to approve applications in some cases. The shortest wait time that you can currently expect is 10 weeks when you apply for a U.S. passport at this time.

You can pay extra for expedited service, but even that will take as long as 7-9 weeks to process depending on the application method. This comes after the wait times for passports soared to 8-11 weeks in February 2023. While this isn’t as bad as the 16-week wait time that was standard during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is still a long wait.

The spokesperson for the statement department recently explained that spikes in passport wait times are typically seasonal but also coincide with application volume. It seems that the department is currently inundated as “this year has outpaced records set by last year's volume by more than 30 percent”, according to the State Department.

Mail-in applications are set to take the longest to process, and this can add up to 2 weeks or more to your wait time. The time that it takes for your mail-in application to arrive doesn’t count toward your total wait time. You may circumvent the extra wait time in some cases if you apply for a passport at a passport agency or center.

How to Apply For a U.S. Passport

The State Department’s website makes it easy to find acceptance centers to apply for a passport. You can search for passport centers by zip code if you want to avoid the extra 14 days that you may have to wait. If your travel plans are urgent, the State Department recommends that you visit a passport agency as they may be able to approve your passport in as little as 14-28 days.

Otherwise, your only option is to mail in your application as it isn’t currently possible to apply for a passport online. It costs $60 to expedite a passport application, and it’s worth the cost if you want to avoid the long wait tie.

Some citizens are required to apply in person, however, such as children under the age of 16 and those who have lost their previous passports. No matter how you apply for a U.S. passport, you must provide proof of citizenship, a valid ID, and a birth certificate to be considered eligible.

Are Passports Required for Cruises?

Passports are only required for open-loop cruises. An open loop cruise is a cruise that departs from a different port than the one that you return to. Closed-loop cruises depart and return from the same port, and you don’t typically need a passport for those.

However, it is recommended that you bring a passport on a closed-loop cruise even if it isn’t required. This can help you if something goes wrong and you are unable to return to the same port that you left. In this case, you may be asked to provide a passport at the alternative port, so it helps to have one on hand. Some cruise lines require you to bring a passport even if it is a closed-loop circuit.

Passports are required for any other type of international travel whether you fly or drive across a border. You must provide a valid ID and passport if you drive into Canada or Mexico from the United States. If you fly to another country, you must bring proof of citizenship, a valid ID, a passport, and proof of your travel itinerary.

Article updated:
January 5, 2024

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