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When can I expect to receive my passport? Nobody knows

A worker processes passports at a State Department's regional office.
(Getty Images)

I just submitted my passport for renewal but was unable to expedite it because of the tremendous backlog due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to plan a trip to Mexico in October. When can I realistically expect to receive my passport?

Nobody seems to know. Officials at the U.S. State Department, which largely shut down its passport processing in March, said they are chipping away at a big backlog of applications. The only new requests they’re acting on are life-or-death emergencies. For those who have paperwork in the pipeline, the answer boils down to three vague words: “Expect significant delays.”

When passport agency officials are able to provide more information, they said, it will appear on this page: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply/processing-times.html.

There are signs of progress. Passport offices began reopening June 11. Nationally, the passport backlog was 1.43 million on July 8, 1.31 million on July 15 and 1.23 million on July 22.

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Officials said in late July that five passport agencies and centers had reached Phase 2 in their three-phase recovery plan, which means “most staff” are at work in the office doing tasks that can be performed in secure buildings.

An additional 12 passport agencies and centers had reached Phase 1 (“some“ employees at the office). Many sites had not yet reached Phase 1, including passport agency offices in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco and the Western Passport Center in Tucson.

Before the pandemic, processing times routinely took six to eight weeks, or eight days to three weeks for most expedited requests.


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