Passport office extends hours in wake of long processing periods

If you need to get a passport and have a trip planned any time soon, good luck; the pandemic created a major passport backlog and the office where you need to go simply can’t keep up.

They’re working on the weekends at the office of the Lee County Clerk of Court. But even with the office in overtime, if you submitted an official request for a new or updated passport today, you would be lucky to have it by Christmas. Normally, it takes six to eight weeks to get a passport—now that wait is 18 weeks or even more.

The Lee County Clerk of Court says only so much can be done to help. its office is open this Saturday, but the 40 slots available are completely booked already. The employees are helping people submit the passport application, but after that the government will take as much time as it needs to send them back.

“The federal agency tries to keep their agents up to date on what the backlog is and what the wait time is, but it has crept up over the last month or so,” said Lisa Doggett with the Lee County Clerk of Court. “And it could just keep creeping up. And so, you know, I encourage people… to keep trying to get it, just to get in the door so you can get it processed.”

“Yeah, we had to cancel our trip to Harbor Island in the Bahamas,” said traveler Time Savagae. “We were told… I think at the time it was four to six weeks. It took seven and a half. Had to cancel the plans, cancel the house, uh, so I’d really like to know what the reason is behind it.”

The reason is that the government department which handles this was closed for six months during the pandemic. Now is the time to check the expiration date on your passport. Make sure it’s not expired, because if it is, you may be in trouble when it’s time to make your travel plans.

Even though all of the slots for Saturday are full, you can still go to the Clerk of Court’s office during normal weekday work hours. The next special weekend session for passport applications is in November.

Reporter:Michael Hudak
Writer:Joey Pellegrino
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