Have you recently become a U.S. citizen? Or was your last U.S. passport issued ten years ago? Maybe you are one of the nearly sixty percent of Americans who just don’t have a passport. If so, and you have international travel plans this summer, take note! The Department of State (DOS), the agency responsible for issuing American passports, expects a record-breaking season ahead.
The uptick in applications is no surprise. In 2007, as a result of September 11th and the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, passport applications spiked. Processing times in 2007 were unprecedented, sometimes taking up to three months. Passports issued then are now up for renewal, creating higher demand. But the DOS has had ten years to improve and update systems in anticipation of this year’s renewal crush. DOS recently reported having already processed a whopping 11 million by the end of April. Last year the DOS processed 16.8 million applications in total. This year is expected to surpass 20.5 million renewals and first time issuances, while DOS strives to meet the 6-8 week processing goal.
Tips for Travelers
- Plan ahead. Even if you don’t have scheduled travel needs, it’s good to keep your passport up to date in case of emergencies abroad. Start the process here.
- Remember that some countries require your passport to have at least six months remaining validity in order to be admitted. If you are traveling with a passport that expires in less than six months, check requirements for your destination here.
- Recently naturalized? Congratulations! Schedule a day now to apply for your passport and register to vote. Considering attending one of the passport fairs offered for first time applicants. Remember to store your naturalization certificate in a safe place when it’s returned to you.
- When you receive your passport put a pop-up renewal reminder on your calendar so you don't miss the expiration date down the road. DOS recommends applying nine months ahead of expiration!
- Children under 16 must renew more frequently: every 5 years. Note renewal dates in your family calendar, too.
- Pay special attention to photo requirements, which are a top reason for delayed or rejected applications.
With your new passport in hand, the world awaits. Grab your tickets and Bon Voyage!