I just learned this the hard way.  The U.S. Department of State says that, because of limited operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, that Americans should expect "significant delays" in the processing of applications or renewal requests for U.S. Passports.

Kevin and I are heading to Europe this summer.  At least, that's the current plan, which we realize could easily change due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, travel restrictions and international cruise and flight cancellations.  Just before heading off to NYC in March, we realized that our passports were set to expire close to the end of the year.  So, in February, never anticipating the extent COVID-19  would affect our country and government operations as it has, we sent off our renewal applications.  And, well, we're still waiting.  While the U.S. Department of State cashed my payment check on February 26th, we don't yet have our renewed passports. Now, we're not certain when we'll get them.

I checked the official website to monitor the status of our renewal applications and this is what I learned:

Normally, for routine service for applications and renewals, the U.S. Department of State offers a commitment of door-to-door service within 6 to 8 weeks.  That, by the way, was what I was anticipating.  However, because the department has greatly reduced its operations in the wake of COVID-19, they admit they're unable to meet that commitment until further notice.  In fact, according to the site, "You should expect significant delays beyond this time period it normally takes to receive your passport and your citizenship evidence documents."

As for expedited service, it is officially discontinued until further notice effective March 19th.  Expedited service, while more costly, typically ensures door-to-door service within two to three weeks.  However, for the time being, that service is not being offered to any applicants.  The only exception to this temporary rule involved life and death international emergencies. "We are only able to offer in-person service at our agencies or centers for customers with a qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours."  For additional information on what constitutes a life and death emergency and what the process if for obtaining an expedited passport in the event of one, CLICK HERE!

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