Your organization may be ready to hold international meetings and incentives again after a long pandemic lull, but some attendees will need a little extra warning before packing their bags. For U.S. citizens who have let their passports expire, wait times for new ones are off the charts.
Before the pandemic, the State Department fulfilled routine passport applications in six to eight weeks and expedited others in three weeks. Today, the wait time can be more than three months: 10 to 13 weeks for routine processing and seven to nine weeks for expedited processing.
While the long wait times have been a factor since March, the State Department recently announced that service wouldn’t improve before the end of the year. According to this CNN article, demand for passports is 30 to 40 percent higher than last year, and, as with many other organizations, the State Department has seen challenges around hiring, training, and retaining staff.
Companies and associations planning events outside the U.S. in Q1 2024 should remind attendees to have their passport applications to the State Department no later than October 1.
Despite the surge in passport applications, the State Department has launched a new program this summer aimed at helping people apply for passports. “Special Passport Acceptance Fairs” are scheduled for many locations in California and New Jersey as well as a limited number of places in Florida, Georgia, and Connecticut. The events are for new applicants only; renewals must apply by mail.