Thinking of traveling outside the US next year? One Fairfield, Ohio, woman has a warning about the need to get passports as soon as possible, after her dream trip was ruined by a passport delay.
Liz Glover is a recent retiree preparing to open a gourmet hot dog stand, Tiny Bistro, on Dixie Highway in Fairfield.
She was hoping to celebrate her big life change with a dream trip to Jamaica with her husband.
"We had a trip planned for July 13, which was our anniversary, our 25th anniversary," she said.
But they never expected passports to take more than four months to process.
"We even paid expedited fees, and they didn't deliver a passport," she said. "So we missed our vacation."
Passport office facing massive backlog just like IRS
Thousands of other Americans are in the same boat. They have been waiting months and nothing has arrived, jeopardizing their trips to Mexico or elsewhere.
"There's a confluence of delays in passport processing times reaching more than 5 months," said Scott Keyes, founder of Scott's Cheap Flights.
Keyes said the typical 10-week passport process is now taking much longer, even if you pay for expedited service.
It's similar to the tax refund delays plaguing the IRS this year, due to staffing shortages and a three-month shutdown last year.
"There's a confluence of delays in passport processing times reaching more than five months," he said.
His advice? Get your passport application or renewal in six months before you plan foreign travel.
"If you don't have your passport in hand, you can't travel internationally," Keyes said.
What you can do
We contacted the U.S. State Department asking if they could speed up Glover's application.
A spokesman promised to look into her case, but said people experiencing passport delays should go to a special section of the passport website for more information and help.
It suggests you pay extra for expedited handling, and provides options for expediting if your travel is due to an emergency, such as visiting a sick relative.
Glover says she had no idea, when she applied, that her passports could take five months to arrive.
"It's very devastating," she said. "It was our 25th anniversary, we had this planned and it just didn't happen."
Finally, if you are planning to travel internationally next year with family and friends, make sure they have their passports before you book everything, so you don't waste your money.
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