Why you should renew your summer travel passport now

Editor’s Note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.

While you may still be enjoying spring break, it might be time to plan your summer vacation—if you haven’t already.

There are 11 things on your summer travel checklist to start now, including renewing your US passport.

Unfortunately, as of mid-March, expect a minimum of eight to 11 weeks for routine passport service and five to seven for expedited service.

The U.S. State Department advises travelers to renew at least six months before planned travel. It’s also important to renew, as most countries require visitors’ passports to be valid for at least six months beyond the intended date of return.

Current processing times


Currently, passport processing deadlines have expired since February. They took six to nine weeks for routine service and three to five weeks for expedited service due to “unprecedented demand for passport services,” according to the State Department.

The wait times listed do not include mailing time, which can add additional weeks to the door-to-door time it takes to receive your passport.

The agency processed nearly 22 million passport products in 2022 and is on track to exceed that number this year by half a million passports per week, according to Rachel Arndt, deputy assistant secretary for passport services.

The agency processed more passports in 2022 than ever before, which they attributed to pent-up demand among travelers who would have applied during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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This delayed demand has led to a backlog of applications and longer-than-average wait times across the board for some US government agency services, including passport services. The four Trusted Traveler programs operated by US Customs and Border Protection (Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, Nexus and Sentri) were also affected, albeit to a lesser extent.

However, processing times continue to shrink from what they were at the height of the pandemic. Case in point: I started a self-inflicted pursuit to try to renew my passport backdated to June 2021 when routine processing times were 18 weeks.

Although I ended up receiving my passport seven weeks later, Arndt says travelers should be able to retroactively expedite their passport applications after the fact by calling 877-487-2778. Before you call, check your status online to see where your passport is in the process.

I shared my own experience of not being able to get through to anyone at the National Passport Center by phone (which echoes stories from others I’ve heard); she said the agency “meets customer expectations” with an average of “millions of phone calls per year” to “ensure timely service to most of our customers.”

If applicants pay the additional $60 for expedited service and do not receive their passports within the expedited time provided, they may apply for a refund.

Other things you should know

For urgent international travel, you can try to arrange a limited in-person meeting in two circumstances:

  • In emergency circumstances—such as death—requiring travel within 72 hours or three business days, you must provide proof of a qualifying incident.
  • For non-urgent travel within 14 days, or if you need a foreign visa within 28 calendar days, you must provide proof of travel.

Appointments for Life or Death Emergency and Emergency Travel Service can only be made by telephone.

Online passport renewal remains unavailable as the agency implements customer feedback to improve the process. While they expect to launch online passport renewal services for applicants later this year, the timing remains tight, although a March implementation date was previously announced.

However, processing times reflect those made in person or by mail.

Bottom row

Regardless of your travel plans, send your passport as early as possible for processing, as the time is likely to increase with the increase in summer travel. This means you need to renew your passport now for the summer if you haven’t already.

The agency’s busy season typically starts in January before spring break and summer travel, so processing times will reflect that, including later this month, according to Arndt.

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