Passport Processing Facing Delays 4/12/2007
4/13/2007 9:31:07 AM LinkTravelers, beware: It’s currently taking longer than ever to obtain or renew a passport, as high volume over the past few weeks has dramatically increased processing times. Clients needing to purchase or renew a passport should allow 10 weeks.
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According to the National Passport Information Center, February through April is always the busiest time of year for passport services, since we’re heading into high-travel spring and summer months. Combined with the new travel requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, routine service for passports (usually received within six weeks) is now taking up to 10 weeks. The government’s expediting service, which costs $60 extra and usually takes up to two weeks, is now taking three to four weeks—and possibly longer if the traveler renews by mail.
Amanda Klimak of Largay Travel in Waterbury, CT says that the best way to handle the delay is to plan accordingly:
“When clients are even just thinking about a trip, the very first thing we mention to them is passports.”
“The problem is that they changed the passport rules so much that everyone sort of stopped paying attention,” says Marilyn Cruz of Tzell Travel Group in New York City. “And it’s all of a sudden that people are realizing they really do need one. The passport agencies are so busy that [travelers] now need an appointment to get in, and they’re hard to get.” However, Cruz says that it is possible for travelers who need passports urgently to get them-they are willing to pay an extra fee. Expediting services have a certain number of appointments booked and essentially wait in line for clients; the typical charge is about $200.
“We do all of their work for them,” says Leslie Shapiro of one such agency, It’s Easy Inc., in Manhattan. Her company offers two-day, four-day and one-week options. “We like to hear from people at least 10 days before they are set to travel, though,” she says, calling the current surge in demands for passports “a crisis.”
“Usually we are busy during this season, but not like this,” she adds.
For updates on passport delays, visit www.travel.state.gov/passport.