Passport backlog now taking more than three months; local congressman overwhelmed with emergency requests

U.S. passports are displayed on top of a flag in this photo from June 13, 2020.
U.S. passports are displayed on top of a flag in this photo from June 13, 2020.(Pixabay)
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 9:44 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - If you’re planning to travel out of the country this summer, you need to be prepared. Officials said The U.S. Passport Office is backed up and passports are now taking more than three months to process.

Congressman Robert Aderholt’s Office said they have dozens of emergency requests for passport help, with some people leaving in days and some people leaving in weeks, but there’s only so much your local Congressman can do.

“Their trip is coming up in just a few days and they still haven’t gotten the passport in the mail,” Congressman Aderholt’s Communications Director Carson Clark said. “They were calling us in a panic. Currently, we’ve got about 30 people that we consider emergency, and that is with travel in the next two weeks. That’s a lot and we have a lot more that have trips later in June and July who haven’t gotten a passport yet.”

Each member of Congress has different rules for how far out your trip has to be before they will intervene, but generally it needs to be within a few weeks.

“Our general rule is if you have travel within the next two weeks, and you still haven’t gotten a passport, then that is time to maybe reach to us to see if we can help you out,” Clark said. “We can check with the passport office to see where their passport is in the system.”

They can also get you an appointment in either Atlanta or New Orleans to get one in person, but those offices are also overwhelmed and it’s not always a guarantee.

“In those cases, there is nothing we can do after that,” Clark said.

It’s at least a 13 week turn around time right now for a passport, so officials said if you have a trip between now and Labor Day, you need to apply now and pay for expedited service.

“They are also telling people that if you think you might travel out of the country in the next year, go ahead and apply,” Clark said.

Officials are recommending not to book any foreign trips if you don’t already have a passport. If you are waiting on your passport, you can go to state department’s website to sign up for tracking on your passport application so you can see where it is in the system.

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