Wed, April 24, 2024

Passport backlog jeopardizing travel plans for business and leisure

Summertime is traveling time and if you are venturing abroad, be aware there could be a big hitch in your plans. Whether traveling for business, pleasure, for students involved in international studies, or for church groups visiting other countries for ministry work, the new rules will apply.

The standard passport renewal process, which typically takes a few weeks, can now take up to 13 weeks, not counting mail time which could add two or three more weeks. Even expedited service could take up to nine weeks.

For a couple of years during Covid, overseas business meetings were being held by Zoom and thousands of families canceled travel plans to visit places on their bucket list. Times have changed. Covid has taken a back seat and folks are ready to “get back out there.”

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The unprecedented surge in demand is part of the reason for the challenge and delay in getting passports. Those who want or need to travel now feel comfortable embarking on international trips. The State Department is getting 500,000 requests a week for passports.

Brian Adams, owner of Travel with PopPop, is a cruise consultant in the CSRA. He says if you are headed to the Caribbean on a cruise, all is well. You’ll only need a government-issued ID such as a Driver’s License.

“If you are flying abroad or cruising outside of the Caribbean, get your passport now. The earlier, the better,” Adams said.

Last year, the State Department issued nearly 22 million passports, a record high. Demand for passports has surged by at least 30% this year. Despite increased funding and more staff, the backlog has persisted and wait times continue to grow. That has prompted passport offices across the country to see long lines, as travelers rush to secure passports before an anticipated record-breaking summer travel season.

Adams encourages travelers to make an appointment with their local USPS now, even if their trip isn’t until the fall or even after the first of 2024.

You can’t “Bon Voyage” without a passport and the current prolonged wait times are generating anxiety for many travelers.

For more information about the passport process, here is a link to the USPS. To contact Brian Adams at Travel with PopPop, click here.

Editor’s Note:
Mitzi Oxford is a veteran broadcaster and features writer who also worked at the same television station in Columbus, Georgia as Augusta’s Brad Means! 

If you have a South Carolina story idea for Mitzi, please email her at mitzioxfordcreative@gmail.com.

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