The slowdown caused by the pandemic hit U.S. passport operations hard. Most State Department employees have been teleworking, but passports cannot be processed at home for security reasons. So almost 1.8 million applications that were in the pipeline just sat for months.

But State Department officials say the backlog of passport applications has been tackled, and processors are now chipping away at applications that have arrived more recently.

“We’ve gotten through essentially all of the backlog work, and now we’re getting back to a regular rhythm,” Ian Brownlee, the principal deputy in Consular Affairs, said this week in a video chat with a travel website. “If you’re thinking of traveling nine months out, why not apply now? The thing’s good for 10 years.”

Despite the optimistic outlook, there are still delays. The State Department says it currently takes about 10 weeks to process a passport, from application to delivery in the mail. That’s up from the six to eight weeks it typically took in pre-pandemic days.

Also worth noting: Many countries still ban most Americans because of coronavirus concerns.

Read more here.

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