Passport backlog continues to impact many families trying to book their travels
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — If you’re traveling in the next few months and need to renew your passport, you may run into some problems.
"As things started opening back up, there was kind of a surge of people applying, and I think that was one contributor to the backlog," Congressman Chris Jacobs (R, NY-27) said.
In July, Jacobs wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of State, requesting they "take steps to address the severe passport processing delays affecting U.S. citizens both at home and abroad."
"Basic run of course application process to renew or get a new passport application has taken as long as four months which is quite a bit longer than typically," Jacobs said.
Jacobs said if you’re in an emergency situation, you can schedule an emergency appointment, but that may still take some time too.
"There had been this development of third parties coming in and going online getting reservations for the emergency or expedited passports and then trying to sell them for profit," Jacobs said. "So the passport agency has tried to stop that, which is good, but the unfortunate thing is it’s added a few more hurdles when you go online to try to do that."
A spokesperson from the U.S. Department of State sent the following statement:
"We continue to adapt to the COVID-19 situation while we work to meet demand for passport services.
We encourage U.S. citizens to apply for a passport well in advance of any anticipated travel. While it can take 12-18 weeks to receive a new or renewal passport, we have ramped up efforts to reduce wait times and most applicants are receiving their passports sooner.
Our workload is seasonal and summer is our peak. We are also facing COVID-related challenges at each step of our process that have cumulatively led to the current situation.
We have taken several steps to address these challenges, including ensuring all our employees have access to vaccines, bringing back staff at our agencies, offering our staff overtime, temporarily assigning additional staff to passport adjudication, and hiring additional contractors to surge processing capacity across the country.
We expect to be back to 97% of our workforce by mid-August. We anticipate this will allow us to process an additional 100,000 applications per month.
For individuals with passports expiring within one year, we encourage you to apply now by mail if you can, or at an acceptance facility like a post office or a library.
Americans planning international travel should research their destinations on travel.state.gov. Many parts of the world are experiencing new waves of COVID-19.
Our website, travel.state.gov, has more information on how to apply and what you can do to check on the status of a pending passport application, as well as information on COVID-19-related restrictions overseas.
The Department of State does not charge a fee solely for booking an emergency appointment at one of our agencies or centers. Any request of payment for scheduling a U.S. passport appointment should be considered fraudulent.
U.S. citizens who have urgent travel plans can call us to schedule a last-minute appointment at one of our passport agencies. Availability of these appointments is extremely limited and they can only be booked within three business days of travel. Life-or-death emergencies have priority over other urgent travel.?
The only way to schedule an appointment is to call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 (TDD/TTY 1-888-874-7793) from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. Our appointment line is closed on the weekend and on federal holidays.?
The National Passport Information Center representative who schedules the appointment for an applicant will provide unique confirmation information that will be used to verify that the person who made the appointment (or for whom the appointment was intended) is the same person who comes to the appointment.
We have taken these measures to prevent the selling of passport appointments and to ensure our appointments are going to the applicants who need them the most.
Appointments cannot be transferred. Applicants should contact National Passport Information Center to cancel or change an appointment.
It may take more than one hour to reach a customer service representative when calling NPIC to make an appointment. We are working hard to decrease these call times."
“If it’s close to expiring within six months of that point, I’d encourage you to get and moved forward on renewing just so you have that, and there’s not a concern,” Jacobs said.
In response to these reported delays, Jacobs has also asked the U.S. Department of State to take additional steps to address the processing backlog. Click here to read the letter.
If you have more questions concerning passports or federal agencies, call Jacobs’ Geneseo District Office at (585) 519-4002.