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US passport processing times reduced after historic number of issuances

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(NEW YORK) — U.S. passport books and cards hit an all-time record high with more than 24 million issued over the last 12 months, the State Department announced Monday.

With the post-pandemic rush of applications now ebbing somewhat, the department is dropping its anticipated processing wait times for the first time since related travel restrictions were lifted.

The State Department also advised that new applicants can expect processing times to be two weeks faster than prior: Eight to 11 weeks for routine service and five to seven weeks for expedited service, which does not include mailing time.

The new processing times only apply to applications received on or after Oct. 2, and processing times begin once the application is received.

“Our dedicated staff have worked countless hours to reduce passport processing times. We are continuously reassessing our operations to maximize efficiencies and are introducing innovations to our customer service and processing models,” the State Department announcement read. “We are investing in supporting and modernizing our technology, increased staffing levels by ten percent, and have hundreds of additional staff in the hiring pipeline. We remain focused on lowering processing times, and this reduction is an important first step.”

For anyone planning future international travel, the department recommends people check the validity of their passport early and often.

“Apply well in advance of your potential travel and at least 6 to 9 months ahead of your passport’s expiration date,” the State Department announcement advises.

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