The auto club says it’s taking the State Department longer than usual to process passport applications
Nottingham, Md (KM) If you’re planning to visit a foreign country, AAA Mid-Atlantic urges you to begin applying for a new or renewed passport now. Ragina Ali, Public and Government Affairs Manager for the auto club, says there’s been a significant increase in the amount of time it takes the US Department of State to process these applications.
“So we at AAA are really urging anyone whose planning to travel or hoping to travel outside of the United States this year or next year to begin the passport process now to avoid having their travel plans derailed by delays,” Ali says.
She it’s taking the State Department an average of four months to process passport applications, and three months under the expedited process. “We’ve actually at AAA some of our travel advisers have seen travelers, sometimes entire families, being forced to either cancel or postpone their entire trip because of the passport processing, and the fact that it’s taking so much longer than anticipated,” Ali says.
She says some of it is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when travel was slowed. But there’s also been “a significant increase in the amount of people who have a desire to travel, particularly outside of the United States, are factors that are creating what we are seeing as significant delays at the US State Department in processing passports,” says Ali.
This is not only true for people applying for the first time for passports, but those seeking renewals of their current passports, or those who want to make changes, such as women who recently married and want their passports to contain their new names, she says.
And a passport is essential before you make any reservations with the airlines, hotels or car rental companies. “Make sure you that your check the passport status of everyone in your traveling party,”: says Ali. “It’s a really good time to work with a travel adviser to navigate all the different nuances that we’re seeing with travel as a result of COVID-19.”
AAA centers around Maryland can take passport photos, and provide travelers with passport applications, but they will not mail the passport application to the US Department of State.
Ali says anyone who wants to travel to an exotic place can visit Puerto Rico or the American Virgin Islands where passports are not required.
By Kevin McManus