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Passport Crisis, Hurry Up and Wait

Candese Charles

Tue, April 4, 2023 at 12:03 PM GMT+2

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — If you’re looking to travel abroad and need a passport, you’re not the only one. Currently, the rush of applications has pushed the wait time to several months.

“We’re getting 500,000 applications a week for passports,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said March 24, calling the renewed demand for travel “unprecedented.”

The State Department warns it is taking 10 to 13 weeks to receive a passport and the expedited process, which costs an extra $60, will take seven to nine weeks. Staffing shortages are being blamed for some of the delays.

Trying to get an appointment at one of the 20 passport centers in Clark County, Nevada is leaving some people frustrated. Applicants say they are being told that an appointment may not be scheduled for months, and if you plan to walk in to submit an application, be prepared to wait hours.

The Secretary of State reports in the 2022 fiscal year, a record 22 million passport books were issued and the government is on track to break that record in 2023.

Passport demand always increases from March through the summer as travel ramps up but this year is unusual. The U.S. Travel Association reports 52% of Americans plan to travel in the next six months and with around 500,000 passport applications being submitted weekly, it probably won’t slow down any time soon.

“The processing times had been going down for the last couple of months but with the surge again for the seasonal travel it has bumped back up. So the problem is just the backlog of the number of people coming in. I guess the system just can’t handle it,” Windmill Library branch Manager Theron Nissen said.

If you need to renew your passport, you can mail your passport with a DS 82 form (renewal application) and a photo.

If you need a passport for an emergency, you can find contact information for the U.S. Department of State at this link.

Passport services are offered at some post offices, libraries, and government buildings.

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