If international travel is on your agenda this summer and you’re a U.S. citizen, double-check your passport now and make sure it’s not expired.
The State Department recently issued an advisory on Twitter informing travelers of the lengthy processing times that are now a reality for passport renewals or approvals. The government agency’s standard passport processing is taking anywhere from eight to 11 weeks. And even expedited service will take as much as five to seven weeks.
That means if you’re planning to travel in June (or anytime this summer really), and you need to renew your passport, the time to start doing so is now.
It’s also worth noting that the agency’s processing estimates do not include mailing time, which may add a few more weeks to the entire process.
Equally importantly, passport applications must be submitted by mail. While a pilot program to renew passports online was established in 2022, it was paused earlier this month, according to the State Department website.
“On February 7 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, we temporarily closed our online renewal service to new customers. We plan to periodically reopen the service to new customers in a limited release before a full release later this year,” the website currently states.
When the online program was initially launched it promised to cut the time of passport renewals by 1-7 weeks, reducing the average renewal process from the traditional 8-11 weeks by mail to just 5-7 weeks online.
After the online program started, more than 500,000 customers submitted applications through the portal. The agency is now fine-tuning the program based on customer feedback.
There’s a long list of requirements to be eligible for online passport processing once the program starts again. Some of the stipulations include that you must be at least 25 years old. In addition, your most recent passport must have been valid for 10 years and must have been issued between nine and 15 years ago, according to the State Department website.
It’s also important to note that if you opt to renew a passport online, you are not able to make any changes to your name, gender, date or place of birth.
Article can be found on travelpulse.com.