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AAA Urges Anyone Planning to Travel Outside the U.S. to Make Passports Priority #1


OKLAHOMA CITY (May 3, 2023) — AAA urges anyone planning international travel to check their passport first. Post-COVID surges in international travel have led to unprecedented processing delays that may affect travel this summer and, possibly, through the end of the year. As a result, passport-processing times are more than double what they were before the pandemic.


International travel is coming back with a roar which has caused a bottleneck in passport processing,” says Sheila Nielsen, Travel Advisor for AAA in Norman. “Before booking that dream vacation, the first question we ask our clients is their passport status. Overlooking an expired passport would be a costly mistake for anyone planning to travel.”Summer Travel RushMyPassport Option 3.png

The U.S. Department of State, which issues U.S. passports, reports routine processing times of more than three months (10 to 13 weeks, as of March 24) after receiving an application. Mailing times may add another month (two weeks on each end). Even expedited applications may take more than two months to process (seven to nine weeks).

International Travel Surge

Increasing delays in passport processing come as no surprise. AAA booking data shows international travel has grown over 200% since 2022. State Department data shows a record 22 million U.S. passports were issued in 2022 (up 42% from 2021), and 2023 is on track to be another record-breaking year.

Since December, AAA partner RushMyPassport reports expedited passport applications have been on the rise. Almost 800 applications spiked in March, which is three times more than the busiest month last year. Given the backlog at the State Department, the trend is expected to continue.

Seven Passport Tips Every International Traveler Should Know: 

  1. Don’t miss out on international travel. U.S. citizens are required to carry a valid U.S. passport when flying internationally. However, they must also carry it when driving or walking across the border to Canada or Mexico. If you do not have one, or your passport expires before year’s end, AAA advises you to submit your passport application or renewal for summer travel ASAP.
  2. The U.S. Department of State issues passports. Until COVID-19, routine passport processing was four to six weeks. Now, due to pandemic-related application backlogs and a surge in travel demand, wait times are now longer, ranging from 10 to 13 weeks. In some cases, expedited services may take up to nine weeks. Mail time must also be factored in; it may take up to two weeks for the U.S. Department of State to receive a mailed application and another two weeks for it to return.
  3. Detailed instructions for passport application/renewal are available online. Anyone planning to travel this year should visit the U.S. State Department website to initiate the process as soon as possible.
  4. Many countries have a six-month passport rule. Even if a passport is not due to expire until after a planned trip, it might not be usable. Several countries require that a traveler’s passport remain valid for at least six months after their trip ends. AAA advises travelers whose passports expire this year to start the renewal process now.
  5. Passport processing requires travelers to temporarily surrender their birth certificate (first-time applicants) or their current/expired passport (renewals). While those documents are returned after the newly issued passports are issued, anyone who needs their birth certificate or uses their passport for identification unrelated to foreign travel should have a backup form of identification in the interim.
  6. Travelers can pay for accelerated processing and peace of mind. Those who plan to travel in the next four months, or want to reduce wait times and stress, can pay for expedited shipping and passport processing.
  7. Travelers can monitor their application status online. Whether travelers have applied in person or renewed by mail, they can check their passport status at passportstatus.state.gov.

AAA International Travel Resources

While AAA does not process passport applications, the auto club provides travelers with resources to make the passport process and other aspects of international travel easier.


  • Trusted Travel Advisors: Beyond trip planning and booking, AAA Travel Advisors can help travelers navigate and understand any unique passport requirements related to their destination, such as the six-month passport rule.
  • Passport Photos: Visit a AAA Store for quick and convenient passport photos. No appointment necessary.
  • RushMyPassport: AAA members get exclusive discounted rates on expediting services for U.S. passports and global travel visas with RushMyPassport.
  • International Driving Permit: AAA encourages travelers in need of an International Driving Permit to apply as soon as they confirm travel plans. Supply chain issues have limited availability, so plan accordingly. Visit a AAA Store to apply for an International Driving Permit.
  • Foreign Currency Exchange: AAA Retail locations offer most foreign currencies. Travelers are encouraged to exchange at least 10 days in advance to ensure they have some money on hand when they arrive at their destination.

Read about The Most Common Passport Mistakes at AAA.com/TheExtraMile.

About AAA:
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to more than 63 million members nationwide and more than 400,000 members in Oklahoma.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  AAA is a non-stock, membership corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can map a route, access a COVID travel restriction map, find local gas prices and electric vehicle charging stations, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information on joining or renewing a Membership, visit www.AAA.com.