Here's How Long People Are Waiting For Passports On Average In 2024

Are you feeling the itch to travel and explore the world in 2024? We have some fantastic news for you! If you've been worried about the time it takes to get your U.S. passport, you can now breathe a sigh of relief. In December 2023, the U.S. Department of State announced a return to pre-pandemic standards, fulfilling the benchmarks the agency set in March 2020. With improved efficiency, the passport application process is now quicker and smoother, allowing you to plan your international vacation without the anxiety of a prolonged passport wait.

This comes as a big relief to many travelers, as wait times of more than 14 weeks — and even over 21 weeks, according to some disgruntled Redditors — were not uncommon during the last few years. This may be due to increased demand on the system. More than 160 million valid U.S. passports are in circulation, almost twice as many as were held in 2007. And the number doesn't seem to be slowing down, as the Department of State recently issued the highest number of passports ever recorded: over 24 million between October 2022 and September 2023. Despite the challenge, the Department is committed to updating their services to make the process better and faster. "We have worked hard to modernize and improve the service we provide to the American people," the office of the spokesperson said in the Department of State press release. "We will continue to do so in 2024."

Passport timelines and expedited services

According to the U.S. Department of State press release, regular passport processing times for 2024 will take six to eight weeks. This means that whether you're applying for a new passport or renewing an existing one, you should expect your travel documents to be processed within this time frame. If you need your passport urgently, you can use expedited services for an additional fee of $60, and your passport will be processed within two to three weeks, ensuring you receive your travel documents faster. Keep in mind that there are also options for Life-or-Death Emergency and Urgent Travel services, but you'll need to make an appointment, and there are restrictions for these services.

It's essential to keep in mind that the processing time for your application does not include the time it takes for you to receive your passport in the mail. Also, the Department of State notes that even if you reside at the same address as other applicants who applied at the same time, your passport may be ready at a different time. So, when planning international travel, you should take all of these factors into account to ensure that you have your passport when you need it.

Simplifying your passport application

To make sure your passport application process goes smoothly, you need to take a few simple steps. First, keep track of the expiration date and renew your passport well in advance to avoid any last-minute issues. You can apply for renewal either online or in person, depending on your preference and urgency. Double-check your application for completeness to avoid delays due to missing or incorrect information. You can keep track of your application status online at the Department of State website to stay informed about its progress and expected delivery date.

If you're planning to travel internationally, it's also a good idea to enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This program can help you stay informed and receive important messages, including travel advisories and alerts. By signing up for STEP, you will get destination-specific information that can help you have a safer and more informed travel experience. The program establishes a direct line of communication between travelers and the U.S. embassy or consulate in their destination country.