Need a Last-Minute Passport Appointment? You Can’t Book It Online.

People who need to renew their passports immediately will not be allowed to book last-minute appointments online, the U.S. State Department announced on Thursday.

Those last-minute appointments, which are meant for people with urgent travel needs, can now be scheduled only by phone, the department said.

The reason for the change? It is meant to solve “the problem of third parties booking all available appointments using bots, and then selling them to applicants with urgent travel needs,” the department said in a statement posted on its website. Some appointments sold by third parties cost as much as $300, USA Today reported.

The department said the change was “temporary” but did not indicate when booking those appointments online may resume.

The appointments can be made by calling the National Passport Information Center, at 1-877-487-2778, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday. “Wait times to reach a customer service representative can be long,” the department said on its website. “Last-minute in-person appointments are still extremely limited.”

The last-minute appointments are generally restricted to people who need to travel for life-or-death related emergencies, State Department officials said in a statement earlier this month. Americans seeking passports for nonessential travel are being offered “very limited appointments,” and are required to show documents indicating their travel is within 72 hours, the department said.

Thursday’s announcement came about 16 months after pandemic lockdown restrictions started forcing many people to abruptly abandon their travel plans.

The pandemic also led the State Department to significantly reduce its passport operations in March 2020 in order to protect its staff from contracting Covid-19, the department said. This led to hundreds of thousands of American passports expiring.

Now, as travel restrictions are easing in Europe, Canada and elsewhere, a number of those passports still need to be renewed. And government officials are still working through the backlog.

Ned Price, a State Department spokesman, said on Monday that the department had increased the number of worker addressing the passport backlog. “We are doing all we can, and we will continue to look for ways that we might seek and be able to accelerate passport processing.”

Routine passport service by mail can take as long as 18 weeks, according to the department’s website. (That includes up to 12 weeks for “processing” and up to six weeks for mailing, according to the site.) Before the pandemic, that service could take six to eight weeks.

Expedited passport service, which costs an additional $60, can now take up to 12 weeks, compared with before the pandemic, when it took a few days to three weeks. A same-day expedited passport costs $170, with an additional $35 for first-time applicants.

Source link

Latest

Elon Musk Presents Humanoid Robot Called Optimus At Silicon Valley Event

Elon Musk was criticized last year for purporting to...

King Charles will not attend COP27, says Palace

The monarch and prime minister agreed the King would...

Party of Latvia PM Kariņš poised to win election, exit poll shows

Latvia’s national election on Saturday appeared set to show...

Deucha Pachami coal project: Govt to make rehab package more lucrative

The state government has firmed up plans for more...

Cannabis Tourism Is Gaining Popularity. Here’s What The Experience Is Like.

People plan vacations around all sorts of themes, from outdoor adventure to pop culture fandom and wine. In recent years, a newer travel area...

What To Do If You Forget To Bring Your Medication On A Trip

Prescription medications are an essential item on your packing list when you’re traveling. However, bringing them can require a little preparation.Before you head out,...

I Was So Scared Of Flying, I Couldn’t Set Foot On A Plane. Here’s How I Overcame My Phobia.

When I read that the singer Ari Lennox has stopped booking shows overseas because aerophobia was “destroying” her health, I understood her dilemma.The year...