Thought the wait to get a passport in the past was long? It’s 3 times longer now!

Thinking of a little international travel this year, or next?

You may want to make sure your passport is in order now.

Thanks to the post-pandemic increase in the desire to travel, mail delays and state department slow downs, passport processing times are now three times as long as the average wait time prior to the pandemic. The current wait time is 18 weeks.

“Approximately 18% of people across the globe, including ‘millennials and on-the-go travelers,’ are planning an international trip within the next 12 months,” said Victoria Stark, retail manager at AAA’s Fairfax Retail Center. “It is imperative for U.S. citizens planning to travel abroad to have their valid U.S. passports.”

Paying to expedite the passport only shortens your wait from 4 1/2 months to 3 months.

“Our agents are seeing so many travelers, sometimes entire families, who have been forced to cancel or postpone their trips because passport processing has taken longer than anticipated,” Stark said. “For those who are uninsured for such a change in plans, the cancellation is much more than an inconvenience. It’s a costly miscalculation.”

And if you’re thinking your current passport will just squeak you through your next trip, it’s important to remember many countries want the expiration date to be at least six months after the return date from your travel plans.

AAA Passport Tips for Travelers

  • Check passport status of everyone with whom you plan to travel.
  • Share passport status information with your travel adviser.
  • Book travel that ensures your return date is at least six months before passport expiration.
  • Initiate passport processing for:
    • New passport applicants.
    • Passports that have expired or are set to expire within 6 months of travel.
    • Passports that require a name change.
  • Visit your nearest AAA office for your passport photo, application and instructions. For more information, visit AAA Passport Services.

Michelle Murillo

Michelle Murillo has been a part of the WTOP family since 2014. She started her career in Central Florida before working in radio in New York City and Philadelphia.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2021 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up