State Department officials are advising military families to allow plenty of time to renew or apply for passports, in light of a surge in passport applications.
The wait time for standard processing of passports is six weeks, compared to four weeks last year, said Ashley Garrigus, a spokeswoman for the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs. Expedited service will get a tourist passport in three weeks, but it costs an extra $60.
But those stationed overseas should also have a regular tourist passport, which requires a fee, for personal travel.
As the 10-year mark approached, Garrigus said, "We anticipated the surge, and made plans. There are a lot of processes in place. Employees are working overtime to make sure it's running smoothly." The department hired extra employees and are continuing to hire more but officials want to make sure people are aware of the potential delays, Garrigus said.
Some of the circumstances military families should think about include children who don't yet have a passport; passports that are expiring soon; and relatives expecting to travel overseas to visit military members stationed there. Garrigus advised families to also think about unexpected emergencies which could require travel to and from overseas.
And retirees and others who travel overseas frequently for leisure are no doubt checking their passport's expiration date.
For more information on applying for passports, visit the State Department's website or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 877-487-2778.
Karen Jowers covers military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.