AUSTIN (KXAN) — Diana Croll-Guard’s family is leaving for London for a wedding on Sunday, and their toddler doesn’t have his passport.
She began the process to get him one in April. Weeks later, she doesn’t have an update on the application status.
She’s not alone. You’re going to need to plan for extra time to get your passport. According to the U.S. Department of State, it’s now taking 10-17 weeks because of demand. If you pay an extra $60, you can get your passport in seven to nine weeks.
Croll-Guard had a difficult time even scheduling an appointment to start the process.
“We were unable to do that in the Austin area at all,” she said.
Croll-Guard said she and her husband took time off work to drive to Fredericksburg for a walk-in appointment and paid for the application to be expedited. Still, no luck.
“It’s causing like a lot of stress and anxiety right now,” Croll-Guard said.
Passport applications are up 30% compared to last year, according to the U.S. Department of State.
On March 24, it made the announcement that any applications submitted on or after that date, would take longer to process because of increased demand.
That’s left third-party agencies, like Austin Passport Express, swamped trying to help people.
“We can’t help you until you’re within two weeks of the travel date to do emergency services,” office manager Edgar Ariano said. “We’re booked up for two weeks as of right now, because of how bad it is…we’re limited on how many of these services we can do…every courier is.”
You could also try contacting your state representative.
“Our office has so many of these calls that we have to help people within our district,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, said. “I’ve even had people call me when they’re on the way to the airport…we can’t work miracles, [but] what we can try to do sometimes is to get [your application] to the top of the stack.”
Doggett said his office has been able to help a number of people, including babies. However, he warns starting the process early is imperative.
“If you can avoid needing the help of congressional participation, that’s even better for you,” Doggett said. “I’ve seen too many people in recent weeks, who’ve had their travel plans disrupted in a very costly way because they did not look at their passport when they started planning.”
Cross-Guard is working with Doggett. He said he thinks they’re making progress in her case.
In the meantime, she’s just waiting. And she wants others to know how difficult this process has become.
“If you think you’re going to be traveling within the next year, I would just [start the passport application process] now,” Cross-Guard said.
Texas has two passport agency centers in Houston and Dallas. These are different than a Passport Application Acceptance Facility because they handle passport applications directly.
You have to make an appointment for one of these offices. Those appointments are limited.