Travel News

US Passport Update – Here is What Month They Are Up to With Passports

Written by Charlie

Here is the latest US passport update! They are slowly working their way through the backlog but some good news on the months that they have just about closed out now!

Here we go – another Thursday, another US passport update from the State Department! This week, there was, again, an incremental increase in the number of passports processed vs the number of passports that came in. But, they shared some other metrics that give us an even better idea of where they are at.

US Passport Update for This Week

Remember, they are processing them a first come/first out basis. To understand how the whole passport processing is accomplished (as well as where your passport is sent), check out this post for a cool infographic to break it all down.

Here is how the State Department did in the last week, as well as the two previous weeks:

Week (Thursday-Wednesday) Applications Received Passports Awaiting Issuance** Passports Issued*
This Week (Sep 10-Sep 16) 143,000 931,000 149,000
Last Week (Sep 3-Sep 9) 110,000 944,000 129,000
2 Weeks Ago (Aug 27-Sep 2) 151,000 919,000 168,000

If you want to see previous weeks’ numbers, check out this tag (I don’t want to put them all in here from the last couple of months to give too much data in these posts).

Why the Slow Down?

As you can see, they only gained a net positive of 6,000 passports this week, compared to 19,000 passports last week (which was a down week due to Labor Day). They do have a note each week, lately, that says this:

The number of passports issued can vary due to many factors such as staffing levels and local conditions which may require an agency to temporarily close.

I am taking this to mean that they are not actually announcing when a passport center/agency temporarily closes at this point though the local authorities may decide that businesses/offices should go with reduced workers or close here and there. That could be why there are lower numbers.

As you can see also, we are up 12,000 more passports awaiting issuance than we were two weeks ago. To be honest, the numbers do not make sense. Since two weeks ago, they have not had a negative issuance week (more passports coming in than going out) so I am wondering if this might include some passports that do not come through the regular avenues – life-and-death passports, diplomatic passports, passport renewals through embassies, etc.

At any rate, there are the numbers!

What Month Are They Through?

The good news is that they are now done completely with applications received in March and 99% done with those received in April, May, and June. That is an increase of 2% since last week so next week, they should be completely caught up through July. Good news, indeed, for those that submitted after the offices started opening up again!

What Are the Three Phases of Passport Operations?

Getting Your Passport Status and Update

Here is what you need to do, per the US State Department:

Status updates are available online or by calling us at 1-877-487-2778. You can go to our Online Passport Status System and sign up for automatic email notifications about your passport status.

You will receive an email when your passport is 1) In Process: your application is being reviewed at a passport agency or center, 2) Approved: your application has been approved and will be printed, and 3) Mailed.

If you receive a status update of Not Found, your application is still in transit to one of our agencies and centers or we are experiencing a temporary, technical issue with our Online Passport Status System. 

Some of the links on Running with Miles are affiliate links that pay a commission if a purchase is made. Running with Miles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

15 Comments

  • I just submitted at the post office last Friday on Sept 11, yeah Sept 11.

    I can give you a personal data point of one to follow up on. Probably best done in email and not through a public exchange of comments, though.

      • Yes, it’s a real email address (not fake or throwaway). If their backlog is 900k+ and processing 120-160k a week, that’s anywhere from 5-8 weeks time for a followup check. Assuming there’s no politically motivated slowdown in mail delivery.

        • Hi,

          I don’t know if you get notifications on comments to an old comment thread, but the new passport came in the mail on Oct 13. That’s a one-month processing time.

  • I applied for renewal on one of my child with no trip scheduled and they cashed the check on 8/10. then we decided to shoot for a trip to cancun middle of Oct with all these hyatt promotions. I’ve been following this updates very closely.
    Here is how I am estimating mine. There was 968k in the queue at the week of 8/6-8/12 so assuming I am right behind that queue and between 8/13, through 9/16, 811k have been issued according to the chart.

    am I correct in thinking that we are about 157k th in the line? 1 week to process, another week to mail and receive. I have little over 3 weeks left before the trip. It seems I have a bit of chance getting the passport back in time for our trip.

    But what I am not so sure is that it seems you can get unlucky and your application can get stuck at the center that’s closing frequently thus slower than expected in processing them?

    What happens when a center goes into the next phase and processing rate increases? do they reshuffle and move some of applications from the processing center with largest queue to the one that just opened or has short queue? Otherwise, “first in first out” bases doesn’t make sense if they don’t regularly re-balance the queues across all centers.

    • Good job on keeping track and planning like that! What I have been told is that the passports are sent to the various centers to keep them going out as they had come in. But, if a center gets shut down for a day or two, I would imagine they are not sending any out so that could be something that slows it down, depending on where you are at.
      If your center it was sent to is in Phase Two, I think you stand a better chance of getting it on the schedule you outlined.
      Please let me know when you get it! Definitely hoping it comes soon for you!

  • Submitted passport renewal mid July, got email mid Sept of approval and getting mailed passport back.

    So turnaround time is 3 months for people who submitted back in July

  • Im submitting a Paperwork tomorrow for a upcoming early December Work Trip(Just found out yesterday) do you think that there is any chance i get a passport by the first week of December?

  • Early in the month, I concluded that the Bureau finally caught up on the backlog that was hanging there from the early pandemic. When no agencies went to Phase Three, I also concluded that the Bureau has a system in place, so that people can work safe, and that system is going fine enough that if they had to. So that, they could do turnarounds on the later pandemic applications within six weeks. (This is since 950,000 divided by six is about 158,000, and that’s what has been going out the door each regular workweek.) So if someone put in in Pandemic July, they might get a result here in Pandemic September.

    Also, it’s been pretty well reported in the blogosphere and on YouTube that the passport renewals/applications are distributed out to the different agencies. With that, there must a live person or group who are going through the incoming packets and doing a processing triage as to what should get sent where. It is probably “first come first serve” at that point. (Because it doesn’t make any sense that a national center would be twiddling their thumbs if they have processed all their apps, or someone’s application gets rerouted over to another office after it’s already started in the first office.)

    People intently following the commentary on the internet have probably read about the American expat in France who got a two-week turnover, and this would probably explain why it happened that way for him. He got lucky and sent down a chute where the processing could be quick. He also doesn’t say if his passport was expired, IIRC. I think fairness would require that an expired passport get bumped to the head of the line. Also, since he was an expat, that an expat one would, too. You can return to America without a passport — they will let you in — but it is a statute-based infraction to come in that way.

    To anyone holding on to a passport renewal application who is waiting for a Phase Three office to open, I wouldn’t risk it. That may be in Pandemic November, or 2021 even. (You may have a new passport back by then.) I would mail it in with tracking, and pay the extra money for expedited as good faith, even though expedited got suspended. If you needed for “live or death” travel, and you are in the system, they probably can get your application flushed out of the pack.

    I think the Bureau people are being pros about this “in these challenging times”.

  • My passport expired too long ago to be renewed, so I have to get a new one. Here in New Orleans, the passport office is in phase 2, with no indication so far of when it will enter phase 3. Is there a way for me to apply for a new passport online or at a post office or in some other way?. If so I would like to do that in order to get a place in line. Or can a private expedited do anything useful at this point? Thanks.

  • I mailed off my renewal earlier this week. I’ll be glad to (privately) share my experience with you through email exchange. After reading the WAPO article several weeks ago, I decided to renew now, as the COVID-related backlog has supposedly diminished. We’ll see what happens.

  • Hello everyone! I submitted a new passport application on Aug. 18 and today (Sept. 28) I received an email saying that my application was approved and printed. The email said I should receive it on or around 10/04/2020!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

BoardingArea