Dr. Boozman's Check-up

Looking forward to a family trip? Getting excited about a study abroad opportunity? If so, plan early for the most important detail of any international trip – your U.S. Passport.

The State Department announced this week that processing times for U.S. Passports are increasing again and travelers need to be ready. According to agency officials, travelers should expect processing times of 8-11 weeks for routine processing and 5-7 weeks for expedited processing.

It’s important to note those estimated times don’t start when you mail your application. They start when your application is received by the Passport Service. To be safe, my office recommends adding two weeks to your thinking whether you’re applying for your first passport, a renewal, or even an expedited application. This will allow for mailing, getting your application in their system, and some back-and-forth if there is a problem with documents.

For the last three years my office has handled a crush of passport disasters during peak travel months. In 2022 alone, we received more than 400 requests for help. Although we try to resolve every problem favorably, it is sometimes not possible when the system is impacted nationwide.

There is some good news. If you are planning ahead, all of the information you need is available online at: travel.state.gov. There you can find the forms, fees and details to get everything done in time to travel.

If you have urgent international travel within 14 days or need a foreign visa within 28, you may be able to get an appointment at a Passport Agency. This information is also available on that website. However, I encourage Arkansans to reach out to my office if you have trouble with that process as appointments can be booked up during peak travel season.

As always, if you run into a problem with this process or any federal agency, don’t hesitate to contact my office. We will be happy to help however we can.