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State Department has a NEW way for travelers to apply for Passports

Mehroz Kapadia/Travel + Leisure

Amid a surge of new passport applications, the United States Department of State is taking a summer road trip of sorts across America to help travelers complete their application process. 

The “Special Passport Acceptance Fairs” will be held at public libraries, recreation centers, and local city administrative offices. A majority of the events are in California and New Jersey, but several others are taking place in Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Texas, and Wisconsin. New events are added weekly, and the full schedule is available in the U.S. Department of State’s website

The special events are only for new passport applications, and travelers who are looking to renew an existing passport are encouraged to do so by mail. 

If none of the locations are near a traveler’s home location, the Department also maintains a list of Post Offices and other locations that can assist in processing of passport applications, and that list is searchable by zip code

The current processing time for passports is 10 to 13 weeks for routine service, and 7 to 9 weeks with expedited service. If a traveler has international travel within 14 calendar days, they can request an appointment to have the passport expedited at an agency. 

Earlier this year, the State Department shared that the agency has been receiving as much as 500,000 applications per week, which was the highest number on record during the timeframe. 

“We are on track to set the record for the highest demand year ever, far surpassing volumes seen during previous surges in demand in 2007 and 2017.” a release from the department shared in March.

United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken revealed that there was an “intense effort” to resolve the bottleneck issues of processing passports, at a hearing in March. These efforts included opening satellite offices, hiring additional staff, and increasing phone lines.

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