By Anita Roman

For some Americans, travel woes this year involve more than just airline delays and cancelations, as some are running into problems with passport applications and renewals.

According to officials with the U.S. State Department, applications for passports are up about 40% from 2022. With more applications comes a bigger backlog, and along with that, a longer wait time for people to get their passport.

That passport application and renewal processing backlog is affecting Arizona residents.

Arizona woman's trip almost derailed

Anat Gan Eden was set to travel to Israel on Thursday, June 29 with her family.

"A couple of days ago, my husband decided to look at our passports, and we realized that our son [Liam's passport] was expired," said Gan Eden.

Gan Eden discovered the passport issue with her son on the Monday before the trip.

"Immediately, we called the national appointment number. We were on hold for 35 minutes. We finally got through, they said no appointments," Gan Eden recalled. "I said ‘please. Look anywhere in the country.’ They said no appointments, and I said ‘well, what am I supposed to do?’ and she hung up on me."

Even though it was her mistake, Gan Eden was determined to get her son a new passport in time. Her next step involved reaching out to Congressman Greg Stanton.

"If you're in an emergency situation, and you have a trip in a very short period of time, feel free to call or email my office, and we will do everything we can to make sure you get an appointment at the passport center so you can get an expedited passport," said Rep. Stanton (D).

On the Wednesday before the trip, Gan Eden took her son to Tucson.

"When I arrived at 7:30 in the morning, there were probably 25 people in line already," said Gan Eden. "Somebody flew in from El Paso. Somebody drove from San Diego in the middle of the night. He happened to get a 9:30 appointment, and was standing there at 7:30 in the morning. I mean, like, everyone is, like, sharing their horror stories of how they got their appointments, or when they made their appointments months and months and months ago."

Thanks to some connections with Rep. Stanton, Gan Eden was able to get an appointment, and left with her son's passport in hand for what she calls the trip of a lifetime.

Other Arizonans are not so lucky, however

Not all Arizonans are as lucky as Gan Eden. Achia Gafni said he and his two children applied for passports. Gafni's wife, Maya, already has a passport.

The Gafnis were set to leave the country of July 3.

"I tried to call them multiple times. One time, I waited four hours on the line. The other time, I waited two hours just for someone to let me know the system is not working," said Gafni. "We don't have our passports yet. We don't have an appointment. We don't know what to do."

The Gafnis have had to postpone their trip as a result of the passport issues.

What to know about passport applications

As of Mar. 24, travelers waited 10 to 13 weeks for processing of a routine passport application, according State Department officials. A traditional passport costs $130 to renew. For first-time applicants, there is an additional $35 on top of the $130.

U.S. passports are generally valid for 10 years for adults, and valid for five years if the passport is issued for those younger than 16. Americans may not be allowed to travel if their passport expires within at least six months after their trip.

Travelers may be able to get a more expedited passport for urgent travel if they have an international trip within 14 days, but that requires an appointment at a passport agency. In Arizona, a passport agency is located in Tucson.

Rep. Stanton says international travel is up following the COVID-19 Pandemic, which resulted in massive wait times. The Congressman said he has worked across the aisle to press the State Department to account for these delays, and improve communication with applicants.

"If you need to get that passport renewed, do it now," said Rep. Stanton. "It is taking up to 13 weeks to renew passport. Even on the expedited process people sometimes rely on, that is taking up to 9 weeks."

Officials with the U.S. State Department say they have been hiring staff to help boost processing capacity, make sure all the customer service phone lines are manned.