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Passport Application considerations now that Covid-19 vaccines are readily available. Longer delays expected.

Now that vaccines are readily available and more and more of the US population is being vaccinated each week; travel, specifically International travel is going to quickly rebound. With the rebound in International travel, passport processing times are also going to increase.

I figured it was time to provide an update again as people are starting to travel and daily domestic travelers are getting close to pre-pandemic levels again.

hand holding a US passport over a map of the South Atlantic
Wait times for passport applications are running 10-12 weeks with longer delays expected.

Americans pent up thirst to “get the hell out of Dodge” is just going to add to the backlog of passport applications at the passport agency this summer. Processing times have already been running extra-long at 10-12 weeks for standard processing over the past 6 months. Expedited processing is taking 4-6 weeks. Third-party passport expediting companies cannot help you because the Passport Agency is not currently working with them. You can only get an in-person appointment at a regional passport facility if you have confirmed travel reservations within the next three days!

Americans pent up thirst to “get the hell out of Dodge” is just going to add to the backlog of passport applications at the passport agency this summer. Processing times have already been running extra-long at 10-12 weeks for standard processing over the past 6 months. Expedited processing is taking 4-6 weeks. Third-party passport expediting companies cannot help you because the Passport Agency is not currently working with them. You can only get an in-person appointment at a regional passport facility if you have confirmed travel reservations within the next three days!

Here are a few suggestions to help you navigate the current passport application process:

  • Apply soon, if you have been putting off applying for your passport or renewal, do it sooner than later.
  • If you live near a regional passport facility, purchase your tickets even if you do not have your passport yet and you have not applied for it, if you are travelling within the next 2-6 weeks, you will not be able to get your passport through normal processing, you will need to wait until it’s 72 hours before your trip and then try to get a reservation at a regional passport facility.
  • Call or email your federally elected officials, their offices can often help cut through the red tape at the passport agency and help you get answers. It also makes them aware of how much of a problem the passport agency shutdown and resulting backlog has become for travelers.
  • Do not waste money with a passport expediting service, until the passport agency starts allowing the hand-carry passport courier program to operate again, it’s literally no different than mailing it in yourself except you are paying their fees as well.
Don't care how long it takes?
if you do not need your passport in the next 3-6 months, you probably will not need to worry about how long a passport application will take or how backlogged the passport agency is, please visit one of our passport application guides for an overview of the passport application process and how to apply for a passport yourself.

What is this talk about vaccine passports?

Requiring proof of vaccination to enter a country is not new, plenty of countries require travelers to acquire visas prior to entry. Oftentimes this includes receiving vaccines and providing documentation of said vaccination on the visa application. It is certainly a fluid situation; no standard system is currently in place. There are a lot of countries that US citizens can visit without a visa, and since those countries do not have a visa requirement it appears that airlines are requiring you to upload proof of covid-19 vaccination prior to travel into a mobile application that your airline has partnered with. I fully anticipate that there is going to be a lot of chaos involved because of all the different airlines and cruise lines, digital passport systems, and different countries having different entry requirements.

Welcome to International travel in 2021!

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