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US State Department warns of 18-week wait times for passport applications

July 17, 2021
3 min read
Hand holding a US passport outside a Swiss plane
US State Department warns of 18-week wait times for passport applications
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Even if you don't have any international trips on the horizon, now is an excellent time to get out your passport. After all, you'll need an unexpired passport to travel internationally. And many destinations require that your passport has at least six months validity remaining and space for new entry and exit stamps.

The best time to check your passport's expiration date is before you need it. After all, wait times for both new and renewal passport applications are currently longer than usual. In a special briefing last week, U.S. Department of State deputy assistant secretary for passport services Rachel Arndt told reporters that the wait time for new and renewal routine passport applications currently ranges from 12 to 18 weeks.

Customers can pay an additional $60 to expedite their application. But Arndt warned that expeditated applications still face wait times of up to 12 weeks. These estimates are from the day you submit your application to the day you receive your new passport. And the estimates include six weeks for mailing times on the front and back end, which may be an overly conservative estimate.

In the briefing, Arndt went on to note:

This means people who submit new passport applications right now will not get their new passport until well into the fall. Last-minute passport appointments are extremely limited. U.S. citizens who wish to travel overseas this summer and do not currently have a passport may need to make alternate travel plans.

Related: Learn from my experience: How to avoid a 5-week (and counting) passport renewal saga

I visited one of the U.S. Department of State's passport agencies to apply for a second U.S. passport back in 2018. It was easy to get a non-emergency urgent travel appointment at the Atlanta passport agency when I did so. But, appointments are much more scarce now. I searched for last-minute passport appointments in the southeastern U.S. while writing this article and failed to find any appointments despite searching six different travel dates.

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Arndt noted during the briefing that some third-party appointment booking services are selling passport appointments online. But you'll want to avoid buying one of these appointments, as the Department of State is working to prevent these bookings. And Arndt said the State Department "may not be able to honor appointments booked via third party." So, if you need a last-minute passport appointment, you'll want to search frequently using the Department of State's online passport appointment system website.

The State Department encourages travelers to check their passports -- and their children's passports -- now. The department recommends applying for or renewing passports at least six months ahead of any possible travel. By doing so, you can save yourself unnecessary stress and avoid paying an extra fee to expedite your application. And once you submit your application, remember you can quickly check your passport application status online.

Related: Ready to travel? These are the 11 things you need to do before leaving home

Featured image by (Photo by Ryan Patterson/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023