Traveling has been a bit up in the air lately, if you’ll pardon the pun!
There have been major issues with flying in the United States, from pilot shortages to canceled flights. Gas prices are making travel by car more expensive as well. So, you might be thinking that the best way to vacation this summer is by going abroad. But, there are some major issues with that as well that involve getting your hands on a passport. So, let’s break down why getting a passport can be difficult in the U.S. right now.
First of all, passport fees in the United States have gone up, according to the New York Times. As of January, a first-time adult passport is $165, including the $35 acceptance fee, and a renewed adult passport costs $130. A passport for a minor costs a total of $135. Each of these prices have gone up $20 since 2021.
But, besides the higher prices, there’s also been a months long delays and a severe shortage of in-person appointments for passport applicants since early 2020.
Last minute options are also becoming more limited. The online booking option for appointments at U.S. Passport Agencies was eliminated in the summer of 2021. This was the only way to obtain a same-day passport for emergency travel.
People with last minute travel needs now have to spend long wait times on the phone trying to secure a spot, and you can only book an appointment if you have proof of imminent travel within 14 days. The appointment itself must occur within 3 business days of your departure. But, even if you find an appointment in the correct time frame, it could be in different city or state.
Options have also narrowed because the services of courier companies (or passport expediters) had their number of applications that they’re allowed to handle reduced, which has also caused prices to go up. The number of passports these private companies can handle each day has been cut by as much as 75% and as a result, some companies are charging up to $3,000 to expedite your passport.
If you’re an applicant taking a more traditional route and apply for a renewal or a new passport directly through the U.S. State Department, routine passport service is now taking between 8 and 11 weeks. It once took as little as 6 weeks. Rushed service costs an additional $60 and is currently running between 5 and 7 weeks, when before, it would take anywhere from a few days to 3 weeks.
One passport expediter said that nearly 75% of their customers are now choosing to expedite their passports, but this creates another problem — these travelers hoping to avoid one backlog are just creating another.
But, fear not! By the end of the year, travelers may be able to renew their passports online. President Biden signed an executive order in December mandating the creation of an online passport renewal system. However, this system is not up and running yet. State Department officials said a nationwide launch is planned before the end of 2022.
So, what does this mean for you? Well, for one, do NOT wait until it’s too late to renew or get your passport. If you have a trip coming up, get your passport up to date as soon as possible. And remember, this problem can also affect people going on cruises! If you’re going on a cruise where you will stop in another country, you have to have a valid passport.
Hopefully the online passport renewal system will alleviate this problem when it gets up and running. But, until then, we would suggest making an appointment to get a passport as soon as you can.
Stay tuned to DFB for more travel news and updates.
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Have you had any issues getting a passport recently? Tell us in the comments.
The post An UNEXPECTED Travel Problem Could Cause Major Issues for Your Next Trip first appeared on the disney food blog.