ATLANTA — If you need a passport this summer, you should apply now.
The Atlanta Passport Agency says they are suffering from a backlog of applications, processing 10,000 applications per week. In a normal week, the agency processes about 6,000 applications.
Customer Service Manager Sparkle Hall told Channel 2′s Justin Carter that the agency is committing 600 work hours in June to address the backlog issues.
“I had a crazy emergency today,” says traveler Philip Hawkins. “I get to the gate and the flight attendant started looking at my passport and noticed that it was expired in April this year.”
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Hawkins’ wife and kids had to go to Mexico without him Friday night. He rushed over to the Atlanta Passport Agency in Midtown Atlanta
“I rushed down here as quickly as possible, and I spoke to the staff,” Hawkins said. “I told them about the situation. They were super kind. They essentially asked for a form of ID, birth certificate, or social security card. The whole process took no longer than 10 minutes.”
Hawkins is one of the lucky travelers, as passport agencies across the country are backed up.
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“Nationally, we have about 3.1 million applications pending,” Hall said. “Here at the Atlanta Passport Agency, we have about 30,000 pending.”
Applications are processed manually between 35 Atlanta-based workers and 40 contractors.
“We’re opening one Saturday per month,” Hall said. “Our staff is volunteering to show up for the cause.”
It’s a demand at an all-time high as it’s been reported many Americans let their passports expire during the pandemic.
Congresswoman Nikema Williams says she’s been getting flooded with messages from people concerned about their passport status.
It’s why she’s leading a bipartisan effort with the State Department to handle the backlog, including hiring more federal workers.
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“They are adding new officials to the passport office in Atlanta and nationwide,” Congressman Williams said. “There’s a training process. They just need some extra support and I want to give them the support that they need.
You need an appointment to see an agent at the counter at a Passport agency. It takes 10-13 weeks to process routine applications. It will between seven and nine weeks for expedited passports.
Officials say it’s important to start applying early to allow ample time to process these applications.