Huge Delays for New American Passports

If you’re an American planning on traveling abroad this summer and don’t have your passport yet, you just might be screwed.

Due to the new laws requiring Americans traveling to Mexico and the Caribbean to have a passport instead of a driver’s license, the rush to buy passports has put a tremendous strain on an already strained system.

According to a Los Angeles Times article, the passport agency is expecting a 40% increase in passport requests from 2006. The result, as you might expect, is very long wait times and frazzled nerves as departure dates rapidly approach and travelers are left without a passport in hand.

A friend applied three months ago in March and has yet to receive his. His flight to Greece leaves in 15 days and despite repeated attempts to contact a live human at the passport office, he has had no luck. In desperation he has contacted a passport service who has requested that he cancel the first request and send through another one with an extra expedited fee. If he does so, the entire process will end up costing him nearly $500. Ouch.

So, what to do? The LA Times has thoughtfully included a side-bar on helpful hints, such as applying 18 weeks in advance, or paying a $60 expedited service fee to move the process along (also known as a bribe in certain third world countries).

So, from all of us at Gadling, good luck! Otherwise, it’s a domestic vacation for you yet again.