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Local Passport Fairs Are Helping Americans Get Passports Faster
The U.S. State Department announced it would be holding multiple passport fairs across the country to expedite the extended processing time. The announcement comes following a boom in applications for Americans seeking to travel internationally. The fairs would be for first time passport holders and their families only.
Passport agencies around the country have been hit hard this year as travel numbers return to pre-pandemic numbers, according to the Associated Press. The agency has been handling 500,000 applications a week, a record breaking number for the State Department.
According to AFAR, the processing time for U.S. issued passports has increased from 10 to 13 weeks. This is up from February when the standard processing time was 8 to 11 weeks. The State Department hopes the fairs will help shave off some of the time it takes for citizens to mail in their applications.
“Passport acceptance facilities, such as post offices, libraries, and local government offices are hosting special passport acceptance fairs across the United States to help you and your family apply for your passport,” the press release announced.
AFAR released a consolidated list of fairs happening around the country from now and August 30. While some require an appointment, others like the fair in Atlanta allow walk-up application processing. The State Department hopes the fairs will aid in the high demand for passports this summer.
“We are on track to set the record for the highest demand year ever, far surpassing volumes seen during previous surges in demand in 2007 and 2017,” they said.
Although the U.S. government is attributing the increased processing time to limiting staffing and a pause in online processing. However, the Associated Press reported that prioritizing urgent internal traveler and wayward crisis management is the true culprit.
Applicants seeking to renew or get a last minute passport still have to follow the normal protocol. However, the State Department is encouraging travelers with children to attend one of the Passport Acceptance Fairs. All passport applicants attending the fairs must bring the proper documentation in order to submit their applications.