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Good news: The U.S. State Department is starting to issue passports again

The agency is currently processing a backlog of 1.7 million pending passport applications.

Anna Ben Yehuda

The United States State Department announced late last week that it will be resuming passport services after putting a stop to the process back in March given the global pandemic.

"As many states are reopening, it is safe and prudent for us to follow suit," said Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Carl Risch on a media call. "Issuing passports is a critical component of the Department's mission and our personnel has therefore been deemed 'mission-critical.'" 

Risch announced that, as of June 3, half of the agency's employees at passport agencies all around the country had returned to work in some capacity, following social distancing guidelines and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) provided to them.

Although the agency usually processes 18 million passports per year, employees are now having to work through a backlog of over 1.7 million pending applications. Risch noted that catching up on all those files—which will be tackled in a first-in, first-out approach—will take about two months. To start off, the agency hopes to get through 200,000 passports per week.

Those who have been holding off going through the renewal process can now officially start sending their documents in but, as Risch explained, they should expect to receive a passport after a minimum of eight weeks. Expedited processes will still  be in place for life and death emergencies.

Although travel restrictions across the North American block are still in place, other countries have been slowly opening up their borders, so you might want to make sure that your passport is up-to-date. And if it just so happens that the State Department can't get it back to you on time, consider venturing out on some of the best road trips across America instead. A vacation is a vacation, after all. 

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