COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Now that three years have passed since the peak of the pandemic, more and more people are thinking about international travel.
But before you book that trip, you are going to want to make sure your passport is up to date because a surge in international travel has caused delays in passport processing, according to AAA. Right now, AAA says travel is up more than 200% compared to last year.
“People are just chomping at the bit to get back to traveling,” says AAA spokesperson Bill Purpura. “They’ve put 2020 behind them and they are going.” But this has caused passport processing times to be more than double what they were before the pandemic.
The process with the U.S. Department of State used to take about four to six weeks from start to finish, but now AAA reports it is taking anywhere from 10 to 13 weeks. Purpura says even expedited applications can take more than two months.
“People have been applying for these passports, and it’s kind of surprising them because they’re not expecting that delay that they’re seeing right now,” says Purpura. “That’s a big deal for travelers right now.” For people with international travel plans coming up within the next year, Purpura says the time to figure out your passport is now.
“Whether you are going to Canada, overseas, wherever, you need to look at your passport right now and see what your expiration date is,” says Purpura. “If you don’t have one, you are going to have to apply for a new one and do that right now.”
If you are traveling abroad, Purpura says many countries have a six-month passport rule. That means your passport has to be good up to six months after you travel, or the country may not let you in. So if you are itching to get out and see the world, you’ve got to have a valid passport before packing your bags.
For more information about applying for a passport, head to the state department’s website. The state department also has a web page with instructions for renewing your passport.