The passport office is overloaded, understaffed, and travelers who need passports can’t do anything but wait it out

Photo (c) Tetra Images - Getty Images

Don’t call the passport office, either. You’re likely to get even more frustrated.

Going overseas this year? Got your passport? If you don’t, you may be in for a longer than usual wait. The U.S. Department of State says 2023 is on track to set the record for the most applications ever. 

During some weeks this winter, the Department received more than 500,000 applications, another record and one that exceeded its official projections. But the year’s not half over and the Department expects another flurry as travel season approaches.

Like lots of other businesses, it too needs all the workers it can find to process applications and it’s aggressively recruiting the people who can move a passport application through the system and back to the applicant. Until it can hire all the people they need, the Department said it opened a satellite office and is asking its employees to work tens of thousands of hours of overtime a month.

The Department asks that all Americans check their passport expiration date before making any definitive plans for international travel, and to take action to renew their passport well in advance of international travel this year.

What does “well in advance” mean?

The current passport processing times are eight to 11 weeks for routine processing and five to seven weeks for expedited processing, which costs an additional $60 per application – a fee certainly worth paying if someone is trying to head out by late May or early June. But, again, those wait times are only projected ones and could change quickly. 

It’s important to note that those processing times also do not include delivery times and don't start until an application is in the Department’s hands. In other words, you should probably tack on another week for your passport to get back to you.

Calling won’t do much good, either. The Department says that some customers are facing extended wait times when calling the National Passport Information Center, but it’s taking steps to improve that aspect, too. 

“We encourage customers who have questions about how to apply or the status of their passport application to visit our website,, which has extensive information and allows customers to check the status of their passport application and sign up for updates via email,” the Department said in a statement.

“We are committed to transparency and will continue to provide regular updates about passport processing times, and to encourage Americans to apply for their passport well in advance of any planned international travel to avoid last-minute issues.”

Find a Medical Alert System partner near you.