It Takes Twice as Long to Get a Passport Post-Pandemic: Kiplinger Economic Forecasts

The State Dept. faces a major backlog with processing times up to 3 months.

An American passport.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You can't travel internationally without a passport, but obtaining one is not the simplest process. To help you understand what is going on and what we expect to happen in the future, our highly-experienced Kiplinger Letter team will keep you abreast of the latest developments and forecasts (Get a free issue of The Kiplinger Letter or subscribe). You'll get all the latest news first by subscribing, but we will publish many (but not all) of the forecasts a few days afterward online. Here’s the latest...

The State Department is facing a deepening backlog in processing passports. It’s now taking 10 to 13 weeks for passport applications to be completed, not including mailing time, says the agency. That’s up from pre-pandemic timelines of six to eight weeks. The delays are being blamed on a surge in international travel. The State Department is hiring more agents and approving tens of thousands of hours of overtime to process an expected 25 million passports this year, versus 22 million in 2022. 

Among the congressional ideas to ease the delays: 

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  • A 12-week requirement for processing time 
  • A tracking system for folks to monitor their application status
  • Expanding in-person appointments at regional passport offices
  • Prodding airlines and travel booking companies to provide passport requirement info during booking

Note that some countries don’t accept passports that expire in six months or less. Travelers can pay $60 for an expedited passport and an extra $19.53 for one to two day delivery service, but wait times are still long.

This forecast first appeared in The Kiplinger Letter, which has been running since 1923 and is a collection of concise weekly forecasts on business and economic trends, as well as what to expect from Washington, to help you understand what’s coming up to make the most of your investments and your money. Subscribe to The Kiplinger Letter.

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Sean Lengell
Associate Editor, The Kiplinger Letter

Sean Lengell covers Congress and government policy for The Kiplinger Letter. Before joining Kiplinger in January 2017 he served as a congressional reporter for eight years with the Washington Examiner and the Washington Times. He previously covered local news for the Tampa (Fla.) Tribune. A native of northern Illinois who spent much of his youth in St. Petersburg, Fla., he holds a bachelor's degree in English from Marquette University.