Important: Processing times recently changed for both routine and expedited passport applications.

Act Now to Avoid the Busiest Time for Passport Renewal

If you’re planning to renew your passport, timing is crucial. Avoiding the busiest times for passport renewal can save you from processing delays, unnecessary stress, and cancelled international travel plans.

Regardless of the time of year, you do have several reliable options for expediting your passport renewal and getting a new passport quickly. However, if you are planning to renew by mail, you will definitely want to pay attention to the calendar.

Here’s what you need to know to plan wisely.

Understand the Peak Seasons for Passport Renewals

Passport processing times have gotten shorter once again and are finally approaching pre-pandemic timelines. However, there’s no guarantee they will remain there.

Typically, passport renewal demand fluctuates throughout the year. According to the U.S. Department of State,

We regularly change our processing times as demand for passports varies throughout the year. From late winter into summer, demand for passports is generally higher than other periods of the year.

Processing Times for U.S. Passports (state.gov)

This period coincides with prime travel seasons, making it a hectic time for passport offices globally. Spring, summer, and early winter are especially busy due to the high volume of travel plans during these months​​.

Plan for Off-Peak Application

The best time to renew your passport is during the off-peak season, particularly from October through December. This is when the demand for passports is generally lower, and processing times are faster​​. Applying during these months can significantly reduce your waiting time.

The next best options are September and January. Historically, there have been upticks in application volume during these months, but you are less likely to see the types of delays that occur during the heights of the peak travel seasons.

Early Application is Always Best

No matter the time of year, it’s always advisable to apply for your passport renewal well in advance. Unexpected delays can occur, and having your passport ready ahead of time ensures peace of mind.

What’s more, some countries require you to have 3 months or 6 months of remaining passport validity on your passport for entry. This means that even a valid passport may still not be good enough for your international travel plans.

Our expert advice is don’t wait until the last possible day to renew your passport. Apply 9-12 months before your passport expires to ensure you have the ability to travel abroad when you want and need to.

Stay Informed about Passport Processing Times

Keep an eye on our homepage, this blog, and the official U.S. State Department website for the most current information on passport processing times and any policy changes that might affect your renewal plans.

By following these guidelines, you can avoid the busiest times for passport renewal and ensure a smoother process. Remember, good planning is the key to a hassle-free passport renewal experience.

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About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

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