Aug 8, 2023 - News

Passport delays loom over international travel plans out of San Diego

Illustration of a passport with an hourglass on the cover.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Passport processing is taking longer than usual as strong, post-pandemic demand created a backlog of applications, prompting San Diego to expand services last month.

State of play: It now takes 10-13 weeks for routine processing and 7-9 weeks for expedited processing, which costs an extra $60.

  • That's a slight increase for California, where it usually takes 8-11 weeks for routine processing and 5-7 weeks for expedited service, per the U.S. Passport Service Guide.

Between the lines: San Diego lawmakers are managing the steep influx of requests for passport help.

  • Elected officials can help residents who have pending applications and upcoming travel to get through the process faster by flagging a case to the U.S. State Department.
  • Yes, but: It's tougher for their offices to help secure new appointments and they're only considering passport cases in very urgent situations like life-or-death emergencies with proper documentation, U.S. Rep. Scott Peters' director of constituent services Cesar Solis recently told Axios.

By the numbers: Peters' (D-San Diego) office has received more than 425 requests for assistance this year, compared to 67 last year.

  • U.S. Rep. Mike Levin's (D-San Diego) office had more than 450 passport cases starting this spring, compared to 300 in 2022.
  • U.S. Rep. Sara Jacobs' (D-San Diego) office has handled at least 86 passport cases involving emergencies since the start of June.

The big picture: As thousands of Americans are facing processing delays, the government has upped its staffing and overtime hours while working to get back to pre-pandemic processing times by year's end.

Be smart: There are 36 passport offices in San Diego County to apply for or renew your passport and hundreds more throughout Southern California and statewide.

  • The facilities include post offices, university campuses and libraries.
  • You can make an appointment at San Diego's downtown facility up to two weeks in advance through the city's Get It Done website or app.
  • Of note: You can't pay with cash, debit or credit cards for application and execution fees, so bring a check or money order.

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