Passport application delays spell headaches for North Carolina travelers

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Traveling is on the mind of thousands of North Carolinians including Fayetteville resident Sheena Ray.

"We want to do cruises or, you know, Mexico or Costa Rica," Ray told ABC11.

Ray, her husband, and three children are eyeing a winter vacation trip but need to renew their passports. This comes at a time where delays are throwing a wrench in many travelers' plans.

"I know some people who are needing it for, because they were going for like a wedding shoot, and so, in that situation, you don't really have time to wait the extra time," Ray said.

She also knows friends who have requested an expedited passport process and are still waiting.

The U.S. Department of State laid out its latest travel alert this week, warning people of the wait times. As of Tuesday, federal officials say passport services can take up to 18 weeks, while an expedited services can maybe save you around six weeks.

According to its news release, mail-in delays are playing a major role in backing up the process, which they blame in part on COVID-19. Application paperwork can take as many as six weeks to be received before officials start processing it.

Ruben Martino, an Army veteran in Fayetteville, said he is planning to wait until next year to apply for a passport. However, he knows that not everyone has that kind of flexibility with certain plans and important dates.

"It takes a long time to get it done," Martino said.

The Department of State advises future travelers to track your mailed-in passport application and pay the extra money to have it delivered in one to two days. They said that is one way to help speed the process, something that is also applicable to renewals.

Ray said her family is not in a hurry but will start looking at getting their passports in the next few months.

"We're not in a rush, so we don't mind if it takes a little bit longer," she said.

Federal officials said getting that application delivered as early as possible will be better for any plans you may have in late 2021.
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