US Passport Processing is 'Catching Up'

State Department processed 168,000 passport applications last week
us passport in travelers hand
International (Vax Before Travel)

As the COVID-19 pandemic closed down most air travel around the world, most passport processing operations also came to a stop. But good news from the US Department of State as of August 31, 2020, there are 10 passport agencies and centers in phase two and 15 agencies and centers in phase one of the reopening plan.

And they are working quickly processing the passport application backlog. As of September 3, 2020, they have completed processing applications received in March and are about 92% through the applications received in April, May, and June. 

As an example of this throughput, there were 168,000 passports issued last week, compared with 151,000 applications received.

The State Department says 'If you applied before April and have not received your passport yet, we may have sent you a letter requesting additional information to continue processing your application. Please respond to this letter.'

Or, you can go to our Online Passport Status System and sign up for automatic email notifications about your passport status, suggested the State Department.

As a reminder, you do not need to renew your passport before it expires unless you are planning to travel internationally. Customers eligible to renew their passport have up to 5-years to renew their documents after it expires.

Additionally, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extended the deadline for REAL ID by 1-year until October 1, 2021. This is when DHS will require customers to use a REAL ID to fly domestically. The most common REAL ID is a state-issued driver's license.

A U.S. passport book and passport card are alternative documents that customers can use to fly domestically if they do not have a state-issued REAL ID. For more information on REAL ID, go to the DHS’ website.

In summary, the State Department says ‘Because we are resuming operations in phases and will not have full staffing in our agencies and centers until phase three, we will not immediately offer upgrades to expedited service and we will not be able to immediately commit to specific processing times for routine service.’

And before traveling abroad, the U.S. CDC suggests everyone should speak with a healthcare provider regarding which, if any, travel vaccinations are required for your pending destination.

Vax-Before-Travel publishes research-based travel news.