Do you know when your U.S. passport expires? If you’ve had it for a long time, you better check: The State Department is warning that it faces a big increase in passport renewals in the months ahead, so processing your request could take a lot longer than normal.
The department has declared September to be Passport Awareness Month in order to get people thinking about sending in renewal applications well ahead of their next planned international travel dates. State noted that processing usually goes through more quickly during the fourth quarter of the year than at other times.
What’s the problem? An unusually large number of expiring passports that were issued almost a decade ago, and will soon require renewals. “In 2007, the Department experienced an unprecedented surge in passport applications, issuing over 18 million passports as a result of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI),” State said. “Nearly ten years later, those passports are beginning to expire, and the Department has been experiencing increased demand for passport renewals. The Department issued 14 million passports in 2014 and the increased demand is expected to continue through 2018.”
The State Department said it is keeping its U.S. passport agency offices open on “select Saturdays” in September and October to encourage people to renew early. Passports can also be renewed by mail.
The normal processing time has been four to six weeks, State said, although an expedited service that takes about three weeks is available for an extra $60 above the usual passport renewal fee of $110. The agency also noted that many nations require your passport to have at least six months of validity remaining before they allow you to enter. The department has a web page with details and tips to help citizens plan ahead for renewing their passport.
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