Hoping to travel? Passport renewals taking months for some

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A lot of people are hoping to travel later this year, but a big hurdle potentially stands in the way involving passports.Newscenter 5 found lengthy delays to renew passports before the application is even opened.Rita Bean, of Franklin, Massachusetts, had no idea what she was in for when she mailed her and her husband’s passports for routine renewal. “Months. We’re talking months of delays,” she said. “We sent our renewals Dec. 3.”At first, her priority mail package made good progress, arriving two days later — Dec. 5 — in Philadelphia, where the National Passport Processing Center is located. It moved around Philly until Dec. 8 but then stopped, inexplicably. Weeks went by with no delivery confirmation or even any movement.”It just sat there,” she said. “It sat somewhere down there.”Most passport renewals are sent to a Philadelphia post office box, meaning they must be sent by the U.S. Postal Service. But Bean could not get answers from the USPS about why her passports made it to Philadelphia but did not end up in the P.O. Box.”You mean to tell me, the P.O. Box is right there. Here’s the mail, and you can’t put it in the P.O. Box?” she said. Finally, after a wait of more than seven weeks — from Dec. 8 to Jan. 28 — her package started moving again, arriving in the P.O. Box about another week later on Feb. 4, more than two months after she mailed it. And other viewers tell NewsCenter 5 they have experienced the same delays, even after the holiday shipping season.One viewer sent NewsCenter 5 their passport renewal package tracking history showing an application mailed on Feb. 1 from Framingham did not make it to the P.O. Box in Philadelphia until March 10 — that’s five and a half weeks in the mail.”They said that piles of mail were just sitting there and they weren’t being processed,” Bean said a postal worker told her.But that’s not the end of the delays.The State Department’s website says routine passport processing times right now are averaging ten to 12 weeks, likely due to a partial shutdown last year. That clock doesn’t start ticking until your passport application is opened, meaning it has to be delivered into the P.O. Box first.For Bean, that was several weeks longer.”Twenty-one days before they opened it,” she said. “And then it took weeks for them to process it.”Bean just got her new passports, about four months after she mailed them, so you might want to consider paying for express mail and expedited passport service. The expedited service costs an extra $60 but cuts the turnaround time in half.A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service tells NewsCenter 5 they now have a team looking into the problems delivering to the passport post office boxes in Philadelphia and are working to fix the issue.

A lot of people are hoping to travel later this year, but a big hurdle potentially stands in the way involving passports.

Newscenter 5 found lengthy delays to renew passports before the application is even opened.

Rita Bean, of Franklin, Massachusetts, had no idea what she was in for when she mailed her and her husband’s passports for routine renewal.

“Months. We’re talking months of delays,” she said. “We sent our renewals Dec. 3.”

At first, her priority mail package made good progress, arriving two days later — Dec. 5 — in Philadelphia, where the National Passport Processing Center is located. It moved around Philly until Dec. 8 but then stopped, inexplicably. Weeks went by with no delivery confirmation or even any movement.

“It just sat there,” she said. “It sat somewhere down there.”

Most passport renewals are sent to a Philadelphia post office box, meaning they must be sent by the U.S. Postal Service. But Bean could not get answers from the USPS about why her passports made it to Philadelphia but did not end up in the P.O. Box.

“You mean to tell me, the P.O. Box is right there. Here’s the mail, and you can’t put it in the P.O. Box?” she said.

Finally, after a wait of more than seven weeks — from Dec. 8 to Jan. 28 — her package started moving again, arriving in the P.O. Box about another week later on Feb. 4, more than two months after she mailed it.

And other viewers tell NewsCenter 5 they have experienced the same delays, even after the holiday shipping season.

One viewer sent NewsCenter 5 their passport renewal package tracking history showing an application mailed on Feb. 1 from Framingham did not make it to the P.O. Box in Philadelphia until March 10 — that’s five and a half weeks in the mail.

“They said that piles of mail were just sitting there and they weren’t being processed,” Bean said a postal worker told her.

But that’s not the end of the delays.

The State Department’s website says routine passport processing times right now are averaging ten to 12 weeks, likely due to a partial shutdown last year. That clock doesn’t start ticking until your passport application is opened, meaning it has to be delivered into the P.O. Box first.

For Bean, that was several weeks longer.

“Twenty-one days before they opened it,” she said. “And then it took weeks for them to process it.”

Bean just got her new passports, about four months after she mailed them, so you might want to consider paying for express mail and expedited passport service. The expedited service costs an extra $60 but cuts the turnaround time in half.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service tells NewsCenter 5 they now have a team looking into the problems delivering to the passport post office boxes in Philadelphia and are working to fix the issue.

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