First-Time U.S. Passport Applicants Face 10-13 Week Processing Time

The Department of State has recently updated the processing times for U.S. passport applications. According to the new information released on March 24, routine processing will now take 10-13 weeks, while expedited processing, which incurs an additional $60 fee, will take 7-9 weeks. 

It is important to note that these updated processing times only apply to new passport applications submitted on or after March 24. The processing time commences when the application is received, excluding mailing time. 

While passport processing times typically fluctuate based on seasonal demand, this year has seen an unprecedented surge in application volume, exceeding last year’s numbers by more than 30 percent.

During a Congressional budget hearing on March 23, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated that the State Department is experiencing an “unprecedented demand” for passports. He goes on to say, “We’re getting 500,000 applications a week for passports.”

Travel Spending Up 9% Compared to 2022

According to recent travel industry reports, travel spending in the United States totaled $93 billion in February 2023, 5% higher than the same period in 2019 and 9% higher than in 2022. Despite the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19, leisure travel demand remains robust, with over half of Americans (55%) prioritizing leisure travel spending. 

However, overseas visitations were still struggling to recover, being 31% below 2019 levels in February, a slight improvement from 33% in January. Regarding travel from Mexico, there was a decline from -30% in November to -37% in December (latest available). 

Conversely, travel from Canada rose, reaching a new high of 15% above pre-pandemic levels in January 2023 (latest available). These trends highlight the complex and changing nature of the travel industry as it navigates the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.

How to Apply For A U.S. Passport

The application process can be completed online or in person at a Passport Acceptance Facility. To apply online, visit the U.S. Department of State’s website and follow the instructions for first-time passport applicants. You must fill out Form DS-11, provide proof of citizenship and identity, and submit a passport photo and the application fee. If you apply in person, you can find a nearby Passport Acceptance Facility on the Department of State’s website and follow the instructions for first-time passport applicants. 

How to Renew Your U.S. Passport

Renewing your passport is a straightforward process that can be done through the U.S. Department of State’s official website. The first step is to complete Form DS-82, available online or obtained at a Passport Agency or Acceptance Facility. The form should be printed and signed before submitting it, along with your most recent passport, a passport photo, and the renewal fee, either by mail or in person at a Passport Acceptance Facility or Regional Passport Agency.

Enroll in STEP for Travel Safety Alerts

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. Department of State. It allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling or living abroad to enroll in their trip with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. 

By enrolling in STEP, travelers can get critical information from the embassy or consulate about safety conditions in their destination country, including travel warnings and alerts. Additionally, the embassy or consulate can contact enrolled travelers in case of an emergency, such as a natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.

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This article originally appeared on Wander With Alex. Photo Credit: [@Sonar/DepositPhotos]


Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog, where she provides vacationers with trip ideas, travel guides, and news. She travels to experience, eat, explore, and escape! Alex’s mission is to help you find the perfect vacation destination.