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'Unprecedented Demand' for a Travel Essential Is Upending Summer Plans — and Costing People a Lot of Money When things fall apart, refunds aren't a guarantee.

By Amanda Breen

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KSChong | Getty Images

If you have international travel on the horizon, you'll want to renew or apply for your passport well in advance.

But even that might not be enough: Summer plans nationwide are being thwarted by what the State Department is calling an "unprecedented demand for passports," NPR reported. And to make matters worse, refunds aren't a guarantee.

Related: Southwest CEO Got a 75% Pay Bump Before Travel Nightmare

One Maryland woman told the outlet she was hoping to surprise her 9-year-old daughter with a vacation to the Bahamas. Despite filing for her daughter's passport in March, it never came, leaving her "emotionally drained" and scrambling to figure out if she can get a voucher or credit for their flights.

Another woman told NPR she'll be out $2,500 if she remains unable to acquire her passport and her second attempt to see her husband, who is deployed overseas, falls through.

Their predicaments are all too common. Although the State Department said the standard processing time for a new or renewed passport was 13 weeks in March, hopeful travelers are waiting much longer.

Part of the issue? Skyrocketing interest in international travel post-pandemic. The State Department saw a record-breaking 500,000 applications per week between January and May, and that figure was still high at approximately 400,000 applications each week as of July, according to NPR.

Related: United CEO Apologizes for Private Jet Use Amid Flight Delays

Americans and others abroad are also facing an uphill battle. At one point in June, people in New Delhi could expect to wait 451 days for a visa interview; those in Mexico City were waiting roughly 750 days; and in Israel, where more than 200,000 people hold dual U.S. citizenship, wait times reached 360 days, AP News reported.

Amanda Breen

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior Features Writer

Amanda Breen is a senior features writer at She is a graduate of Barnard College and received an MFA in writing at Columbia University, where she was a news fellow for the School of the Arts.

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