COVID-19 Is Delaying The Passport Process For Months

Travel is my lifeblood, so it pains me to have to say this but if you're in need of a passport or are looking to renew, now may not be the time to do so unless you have plans to travel soon. If you don't have a trip already booked or soon to be booked, it would be smart to hold off. If you have a trip anytime in 2020 or 2021, my advice it to apply ASAP and note the travel dates on your application so they are aware.

I'm saying this from my experience. This past January my husband and I were blessed with our first child, a baby boy who we named Miles, after our love of travel, of course. Fast forward to February 21st, which was the day we took then one month old Miles to our County Clerk of Court to apply for his first passport in person. Nothing made this new Momma Bear prouder than seeing his adorable passport photo and imagining all of the fun trips we'd be taking as he grows up. Oh the places he'll go... right?

With the documents submitted, my husband and I strolled out of there with matching grins, eager to get that little blue booklet in our hands in 6-8 weeks time. So eager, I jumped on the passport status site and kept checking to see when it was received. A week later, on February 27th, it showed received and right away the check for the fees were cashed.

For some reason, despite my better judgement, I opted not to do the expedited passport fee. In my mind, I figured we wouldn't be traveling with him until this summer when he was at least five months old, so why pay extra just to have the document in hand a few weeks earlier. How wrong I was!

Four weeks later, I logged into the passport site again to see if there were any updates on his application status. What I saw was a big yellow notification stating the following:


Due to public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we suspended offering expedited service on March 19, 2020. You should expect significant delays if you applied for or renewed your passport and requested routine service. Learn more about the current status of passport operations and processing times here.

I thought maybe it was for people renewing or applying on or after March 19th, 2020, so I remained hopeful. But now, 11 weeks later, I'm realizing it may mean everyone who had a passport application submitted and pending or processing at the time.

In fact, after reviewing the link above that takes you to the passport website, I saw it said "significant delays of several months ". Yikes!

I picked up the phone and called the number directly, to see if maybe someone could clarify this for me. I got a representative who told me that yes, all passports are delayed no matter when you sent them in. They are trying their best but are currently understaffed due to the COVID-19 situation.

Of course, we're not scheduled to go anywhere anytime in the immediate future, but if we were, the representative advised us she would have taken the details to note it in our file. I'm not sure if that would have done anything, honestly, but if anyone has applied and is in need of their passport in the near future, definitely give a call to their Status Checks department at 1-877-487-2778.

This now brings new concerns to light for travelers looking to get away as soon as travel opens up again and restrictions are lifted. Anyone with passports needing to be renewed are going to have to make the tough decision on whether or not to apply now and wait months to receive it back, or wait it out knowing that the backlog of other people waiting to submit applications is going to put just as much strain on the US State Department. It's a concern I also face for the future, as my passport is due to expire in March of 2021. 

It's not just passports either. My husband's Global Entry was set to renew this past November, but they're taking so long to process it they gave us a six month grace period that they then extended to a full year. That was before the COVID-19 issue popped up. I can't imagine how they are handling new applications and renewals now.

This is yet another hiccup our travel industry is facing during this global crisis. But I will say, a very valuable lesson was learned by this whole experience. From this point onward, any new passports or passport renewals for our family will be expedited, even if we have nowhere we plan to go.

If you're planning to apply or renew anytime soon, weigh your options. And also make sure you have copies of any documents you are submitting for the application. Thankfully, we purchased several copies of our son's birth certificate for emergency situations like this very one. I can't imagine if the only copy of his birth certificate was sitting in a file folder at the State Department for the foreseeable future.

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