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Passport delays causing stress as international travel rebounds

The U.S. State Department is seeing an increase in passport applications, leading to processing delays
Jessica Cain
The U.S. State Department is seeing an increase in passport applications, leading to processing delays

International travel is becoming a nail-biting experience this year before people even get on a plane.

U.S. State Department officials said they’re seeing an unprecedented demand for passports this year.

Elizabeth Carey fromAAA said international travel is rebounding in the wake of the pandemic. Some locations are seeing a boost of up to 250 percent.

"A lot of people are looking to travel to Europe and travel internationally, and what we've found is a lot of people said, 'Oh my goodness. Didn't realize the passport was expired,'” Carey said. “And now they're finally ready to travel, and they think that can just get one instantly."

The state department said routine applications are being processed in 10-13 weeks. Expedited applications are taking an average of 7-9 weeks, and that doesn’t count mailing time.

AAA Travel Director Brian Murray said it’s also important to remember your passport has to be valid for at least six months after your return date.

"Make sure you know you will have your passport in hand before you make your travel arrangements because many providers do not allow a cancellation for improper documentation,” Murray said.

AAA offers a service called “Rush My Passport,” which customers can use to try to expedite the process.

Carey said people who are traveling within two weeks can also try to get an appointment at a passport office, like the one in Buffalo, but even those have been filling up.

"So, it just creates really a lot of red tape, and a lot of issues, so if people do want to travel, they think that there might be a trip in their future, it's best to make sure that you have that passport," said Carey.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.