The us State Department expects 20.5 million requests for new and renewed passports this year, and that will be a record number.
The busy year is no surprise. Adult USA. passports must be renewed every 10 years, and it was 10 years ago that a new law went into effect requiring passports for Americans traveling to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean. That new law resulted in an increase in passport applications in 2007, together with exceptional delays that stretched to months for some individuals.
This year, the State Department says that it’s true promised lead times of six to eight weeks for the processing of passports.
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“In 2007, it was not a good situation,” Brenda Sprague, deputy assistant secretary for passport services, said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We have a lot of post-mortem discussions, and have 10 years be ready for this and addressing the challenges we expect to arrive. We are very busy, but I am happy to say that we are so far, knock wood, stay prior to the curve.”
Many travelers say that they have got their passports processed in just a few weeks.
It took two weeks for Helen Prochilo to renew her passport in March, compared to more than a month 10 years ago. “And we have not yet heard of the delays of customers,” said Prochilo of Promal Vacations, a New York-based travel agency.
Dylan Gallagher, boss of Orange Sky Adventures, a San Francisco-based travel company, he sent his passport in for renewal this year and got it back within a month. “It’s very simple,” he said, adding that in 2007, it took two to three months, “so long that I thought they lost my application.”
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At the end of April of this year, the State Department had already processed more than 11 million passports, a combination of renewals and new documents. Usually about 40 percent of passport applications are renewals. Spring and summer are the busiest season for passport applications as travelers gear up for the holidays.
Last year, the State Department processed 16.8 million passports, but the annual average is closer to 13 million.
The number of Americans who be in possession of passports has increased dramatically over the years, from an estimated 25 percent of the population holding passports in 2006 to about 41 percent now. Factors in the increase not only the law that the passports for travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, but also cheap international flights, and the fact that millennials tend to travel more and at a younger age than the previous generations.
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Tips of Sprague, for the avoidance of the passport hassle:
1. Make sure that your photos meet the requirements as described in https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/photos. Among other things: You can’t wear glasses or a hat of a passport photo, you must look directly at the camera, the photo should be taken against a light background, and your expression must be neutral, but a smile is OK. Sprague said CVS, Walmart and other providers of passport photo’s have been working with the State Department to ensure their passport photographs meet the standards.
2. Keep an eye on the expiry date of your passport. Many countries require that your passport be valid for six months after you cross the border, so you might need to refresh sooner than you think.
3. Check the travel.state.gov website for rules regarding passports for minors. Their passports must be renewed every five years, and both parents must appear when the application is submitted, among other detailed requirements.