by Aaron Earls
Maybe your church is heading to Mexico to plant a church next summer. Perhaps you’re flying to India to help evangelize unreached people groups in March. Whatever the case, experts say now is the time to apply for your passport.
Most Americans seeking to travel overseas apply for their passport immediately before or during the summer months. According to the U.S. Department of State, the average processing time for a passport is four to six weeks, but that can be lengthened in the summer.
Travel journalist Peter Greenberg says the wait can stretch far beyond the expected time frame. “During peak summer months, the wait has been as long as 16 weeks, and that’s longer than the summer itself.”
“We do see things get backed up during the summer, but we do our best to keep it within the timeframe,” Department of State General Information Officer Jeffery Smith told the USA Today’s Road Warrior Voices. He said things move “more smoothly” this time of year with less people applying for passports.
The demand for passports is only growing. According to the State Department website, the U.S. issued the fourth most passports in 2014 in the last 40 years—over 14 million. That’s twice as many as the number issued each year in the early 2000s.
The State Department deemed September Passport Awareness Month to encourage applicants to avoid the long waits that occur during the peak season. Their website also has tips on other ways to expedite the process.
Along with the passport, the four main areas team leaders of short term mission trips need to address are insurance, travel, immunizations, and safety.
Each of those, including travel, involve planning that must occur months in advance. Use the opportunity of a quicker passport turnaround this month to cross one mission trip to-do item off your list early.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.