Yuba City, California – John Bojanski was worried he wouldn’t make it to Toronto, Canada, to help his race car series team. He faced the challenge of trying to get a passport, though he said the process of applying for one was the easy part.
On the other hand, finding a date to apply for an appointment has never been so easy.
Poganski was unable to find a passport acceptance center. That’s because most places are fully booked with no available appointment windows.
In Northern California, there are no dates available at some locations until mid-September.
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The United States Postal Service’s Passport Acceptance Facility accepts walk-in service, but nearly every appointment is booked for the next 45 days.
“Due to the significant increase in demand for passports, we are seeing a significant number of requests for passport appointments,” a USPS spokesperson said.
This leads to situations like Poganski’s. Passengers may not be able to take scheduled flights due to demand.
“It took a while to plan for it,” Bojanski said, adding that he had to drive more than an hour to find an admissions facility that could accept his passport application.
The Sutter County Clerk and Recorder’s Office is one of the few passport acceptance facilities in Northern California that accepts only visits and does not set appointments.
“There was a time when the passport agency wouldn’t accept any applications, so we have this backlog of people wanting to get an application,” Clerk-Recorder Donna Johnston said.
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Johnston said clients start lining up early in the morning even before the office opens to make sure they can submit their passport applications. The Admissions Center will then forward applications to the State Department for processing.
“I got a co-worker to come in early, so I can be here when they open at 7,” Bojanski said. Johnston said they sometimes have travelers come to the office from out of state to apply.
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“The easing of travel restrictions has also increased arrivals,” Johnston said.
State Department data shows a sharp drop in passports issued during the pandemic in 2020.
Fewer than 12 million passports were issued in 2020, compared to more than 20 million in 2019. In 2021, more than 15 million passports were issued.
“To avoid delays and potential travel disruptions, US citizens and citizens should apply as soon as possible for a new passport,” said a US State Department spokesperson.
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Due to the lack of appointments and counting processing times, obtaining a passport can take months.
The current processing time for a passport is 8-11 weeks for routine service and 5-7 weeks for urgent service. These timeframes represent waiting times after applications reach the passport agency.
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