Surge in Passport Applications Makes Wait Even Longer

My passport expires in June 2008, and I guess I better get on renewing it if I want to travel anytime soon.

We’ve already reported on the major delays at the passport office. But it’s going to get worse before it gets better. The Associated Press reports that by 2011, more than half of all Americans will have passports (or the equivalent — the “passcard” has yet to be created). Before Congress required Americans to have passports when flying to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean, only 1 in 5 Americans had one. Now that number is 1 in 4. And next year a new wave of travel rules will be unleashed that will require passports for land and sea travel to the above countries, and it’s estimated that 1 in 2 citizens will have passports in 4 years.

Customers can no longer pay $60 and expect a 3-day expedited service, either. Now the State Department is giving itself 10 days for internal processing. That makes a total wait, for expedited service, of about 3 weeks. Right now the wait for a regularly processed application is 12 weeks — at the least.

I’m almost too late to leave the country by Christmas.