SAN ANTONIO – Cynthia Salinas went to the San Antonio passport office Friday morning because she needs hers renewed -- and fast.
“I actually need it Aug. 28 for a honeymoon cruise,” she said. “Mine expired.”
She’ll need a plan B. The State Department says it’s now taking up to 18 weeks for regular service and 12 weeks for expedited service, which costs an extra $60.
Why the long wait? During the pandemic, international travel wasn’t on people’s radar, and neither were passports. With travel opening up, there was a lot of pent-up demand, which meant an avalanche of passport applications. On top of that, the government is also dealing with staffing shortages.
If you are planning that exotic trip abroad, what can you do?
“The best thing to do is check your passport expiration right now,” said Willis Orlando, with ScottsCheapFlights.com.
There is only so much you can do to speed things along, but Orlando suggests if you are renewing by mail, go ahead and pay for overnight shipping. That will cut mail time but not processing time.
If you have an emergency, such as a death in the family, you may qualify for a priority appointment, but those are very limited. And phone waits to get through are very long.
If your application is being processed and you’re running out of time, Orlando says you may want to reach out to your Congressional representatives.
While that has worked for some folks, he says others have had luck contacting the regional facility where it’s being processed.
Remember, some countries require that passports be valid for up to six months after your arrival.
“If you are planning to go to Europe for Christmas, you need to make sure your passport is valid through March,” Orlando said.
Bottom line, plan way ahead or be prepared to change destinations.
Joseph Jones was applying for his passport 10 months ahead of his honeymoon.
“It’s all non-refundable,” he said. “So, that’s the only thing I’m worried about if I don’t get it in time.”
He should. As for Salinas, she’s going with Plan B, hoping her birth certificate will be sufficient documentation for her honeymoon cruise.