With COVID-19 bringing travel nearly to a standstill, renewing your passport might be the last thing on your list.
But travel pros are advising anyone who plans to travel in the next few years (with an expiring passport) to get their passport renewal applications in now – and here’s why.
Right now you have a small window in time between the backlog of spring applications and the future of the unknown.
While passport offices and agencies are still not fully staffed – and the backlog is real – you still have a unique opportunity to get your application in before things get really crazy.
Passport Offices Are Operational
Currently, 15 passport agencies and centers are in phase 1 (limited staffing, long delays) while 10 agencies are in phase 2 (increased staffing, appointments for life or death emergency only).
Fully operational would be phase 3.
Passport agencies are recommending people hold off in submitting applications – telling folks they’ll experience long delays – and while that’s true – it also gives them a chance to catch up.
Now if you still have multiple years left on your passport before it expires – you’re fine.
But if you have a year or less left – you should renew it ASAP.
Beat The Rush
Everyone is “waiting” until passport offices open up at full capacity to submit their passport renewal applications…
… but this isn’t the best strategy.
First off – no one knows how COVID-19 will play out in the fall or winter – the delays could be even worse than before.
If shutdowns happen again – passport offices could revert back to closed offices and a phase 1 operating capacity.
Which means even longer delays.
Let’s say the shutdown never happens and offices end up opening back up at full capacity…
… everyone and their mother (and their grandmother) is going to be frantically rushing to get their applications in – all at the same time.
Talk about a backlog nightmare.
Currently, passport offices received 23,000 more applications this week than last – and they still have roughly 938,000 passports awaiting issuance.
The good news is, they’re finally starting to catch up – and have completed all applications from March – and are 82 percent finished with applications submitted in April, May, and June.
Since it’s taken them 7 months to process what they received since March – your best strategy is to get your application in now so you aren’t stressed down to the wire having to deal with an expired passport.
You Aren’t Traveling Anyway
And here’s the thing – you likely aren’t traveling overseas in 2020 anyways, right?
So having your passport take 3 or 4 months (even 5 or 6) to process won’t crush your vacation plans.
In fact, when you are ready to travel in 2021 (God-willing) – you’ll have your freshly renewed passport in hand – and all those who waited too long will be out of luck.
And remember… America is in a volatile election season and no one knows who our next president will be.
Violent mobs in the streets and burning buildings could become the new norm – causing many Proud American Travelers to activate their escape plan or seriously work on dual citizenship to get away.
When the chaos hits (and it likely will in some form) – you’ll be glad you got your passport renewed and ready.
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