U.S. Passport Processing Time Has Finally Decreased

by SharonKurheg

Between October 2022 and September 2023 (the federal fiscal year), the State Department issued more than 24 million passport books and cards, the most ever in our nation’s history.

During a good portion of that time frame, the State Department also averaged some of the highest wait times ever for a passport – 10-13 weeks for regular processing, and 7-9 weeks for expedited service, not including the time it took to get from you to the State Dep’t and from them to mail it back to you.

However there is excellent news for people applying for their passports. Effective October 2nd, passport processing times will be 8-11 weeks for routine service and 5-7 weeks for expedited service. This was announced by the State Dep’t on October 2nd.

Unfortunately, this is only for applications the State Dep’t receives from October 2nd onward, not those who mailed it earlier than that and are still waiting.

From the State Dep’t:

Our dedicated staff have worked countless hours to reduce passport processing times. We are continuously reassessing our operations to maximize efficiencies and are introducing innovations to our customer service and processing models. We are investing in supporting and modernizing our technology, increased staffing levels by ten percent, and have hundreds of additional staff in the hiring pipeline. We remain focused on lowering processing times, and this reduction is an important first step.

It seemed to work – besides people anecdotally getting their passports back in just 30 or 40 days over the summer, I got mine back in 17 days (here’s how I did it).

Shaving 2 weeks off a 10-13 week wait is an approximate 20% decrease. Not that an 8 to 11-week wait, or even 5-7 weeks if it’s expedited, is stupendous. I mean, before the pandemic, the wait to get your new passport was about 6 to 8 weeks for standard service. And if you were willing to pay for expedited service, you could get it back in as little as 2 weeks! (and that was BEFORE they didn’t count mailing time). But I guess it’s still better than adding 2 weeks, right?

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