Watch CBS News

Desperate travelers flood Dallas passport office amid unprecedented demand

Increase in passport demand creates backlog of applications
Increase in passport demand creates backlog of applications 01:52

DALLAS ( – The demand for passports has hit a record high, driving up wait times and stress for travelers.

The U.S. State Department reports it's seeing more than a half million applications arrive some weeks.

It's now taking on average more than two months, sometimes three, to get your hands on a passport.

The website,, tracks wait times and found even expedited passports, those travelers have paid extra to be processed more quickly, are taking close to 40 days to arrive, twice as long as they did in February.

"It's really a knock on effect from two years of lockdown and people not traveling as they would have done previously," said the company founder, Andy Anderson.

If you're within two weeks of a booked international trip, you can try to get an emergency passport at the Earle Cabell Federal Court Building in Dallas, home to one of just 26 regional passport offices in the country.

It's a last resort for many whose passports haven't arrived in time for scheduled trips, but there's no guarantee you'll get in and the experience is trying.

A passport office worker said in the afternoons, it's often standing room only.

"It's been hell," said Kassandra Zarate, who arrived at 6 a.m. Thursday morning to find a line outside the building. "We still didn't get any appointment four, five hours later."

Kylee McFarland was in that line, too, with her husband and three children.

"There's no food or drink, no cell phones, no videos, no phone calls," she said.

Her family had just a matter of hours to board a flight to Mexico.

"6 a.m. tomorrow morning and we're the only two that have our passports. None of them do," she said, pointing to the kids.
She applied for their passports back in March.  

When they still hadn't received them two weeks ago, panic started to set in.

"We have been calling every single day for the past two weeks, with wait times on hold up to two hours, three hours," said McFarland.

Ginger Collier, meanwhile, succeeded in getting her passport after a long wait at the Dallas office Wednesday, exactly a hundred days after she first applied.

She said a Congressional office she asked for help warned she might have to fly to another U.S. city for an appointment.

In online forums, traveling across the country to a passport office is an option some desperate travelers say they're prepared to pursue.

Many have called their U.S. senators or representatives' offices, which are getting swamped with requests.

Senator John Cornyn's office reports in May they helped three times as many people obtain passports as they did in May of last year.

A Congressional aide recommended travelers seeking help reach out to only one office, for either a senator or representatives, since contacting multiple offices could actually delay the process further.

"I shouldn't have lost sleep over passports, but I was losing sleep for weeks, worried we weren't going to get there," said Collier, whose trip to meet her son in Italy was nearly derailed.

The McFarlands say they too were eventually able to get passports just in time for the much needed vacation.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.