Long waits for passports ease ahead of busy holiday travel season. Here’s what to know – NBC 6 South Florida

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After months of frustrating delays and disrupted vacation plans, there’s finally some good news for travelers: the process for obtaining a passport is getting quicker. 

This summer, passport delays led to many people having to cancel or postpone their travel plans.

“I feel so frustrated,” one traveler expressed to NBC6 Responds, echoing the sentiment of many affected by the slowdown.

The State Department told NBC6 Responds, during the peak of the crisis, was handling around 400,000 applications per week.

“It’s a lot of work,” Andres Rodriguez from the State Department explained at the time. “It’s a paper-based process and we are working our hardest to meet demand.” 

The demand was indeed unprecedented, with over 24 million passports issued between October 2022 and September 2023, a record-breaking total.

Fast forward to today, and the situation has improved significantly.

“People have concluded their summer travel and there’s a down period typically, and we normally see applications start to increase again in the new year towards the end of January and include those increases going into spring and summer,” said Rodriguez. 

Now, standard processing takes seven to 10 weeks, and expedited processing, available for an additional $60, takes three to five weeks.

Rodriguez also mentioned that the department is taking measures to prevent future backlogs.

“We increased hiring which increased our output,” said Rodriguez. “We are looking at modernization that will help improve the passport application process.”

For those planning vacations abroad, here are some essential tips:

  • Apply Early: Apply months before your trip to avoid delays.
  • Check Expiration Dates: Remember, passports for children under the age of 16 are valid for only five years, unlike the ten years for adults.
  • Know the Rules: Some countries, especially in Europe, require your passport to be valid for at least six months after your arrival.
  • Follow Photo Guidelines: Adhering to the State Department’s photo guidelines is crucial to prevent issues with your application.

The State Department emphasizes that adhering to photo guidelines has been a significant issue for many applicants.

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