Apply at least 6 months ahead

on Sep23
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Passport applications are at an all-time high

More Americans planned trips abroad this year as their pandemic-era health fears waned and countries largely reopened their borders to visitors.

The State Department issued a record 22 million passports in fiscal 2022. It’s on track to break that record again in fiscal 2023, which ends Sept. 30, a spokesperson said.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken testified to Congress in March that the volume of passport applications has been “unprecedented.” Applications typically ebb and flow with the seasons, peaking from March to late summer, but “basically it’s full time now,” Blinken said.

The State Department also had to restaff positions that were reassigned or eliminated when passport demand cratered in 2020 at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

How to get your passport faster

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Processing estimates don’t include mailing times. That may take an additional month — up to two weeks for applications to arrive at a passport agency or center, and another two weeks to receive a printed passport.

Travelers can buy expedited delivery of a new passport book by mail — for delivery in one to two days — for an extra $19.53.

They can also send an application more quickly by purchasing Priority Mail Express service from the United States Postal Service. The price varies depending on the area of the country, according to the State Department.

In some circumstances, travelers may be able to speed up the process further.

Life-or-Death Emergency Service is available for people with a qualified emergency who are traveling abroad in the next three business days. Urgent Travel Service is for those traveling abroad within 14 calendar days for those who haven’t yet applied for a passport, or five days for those who have already applied.

Whether you’ve opted for routine processing or some form of expedited help, you can check your application status online and sign up for email updates.

A soon-to-expire passport may still cost you

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