PHOENIX (3 On Your Side ) -- Dreaming of an international vacation? You better have an updated passport. If not, don't plan to go anytime soon.
"Everything's backlogged right now," Clint Henderson, senior news editor at The Points Guy, said.
If you're getting a passport for the first time, you must apply in person. "Get your passport at least six months before you need to travel because that's how long it's taking right now," Henderson advised. "It's wild."
The Clerk of Court's Office says it processes 100 passport applications a day across four different locations.
Phoenix resident Jeff Anderson booked an appointment to get his passport renewed at the Downtown Customer Service Center and got lucky. "There was one available today and nothing else for the rest of this month," Anderson said. Appointments fill up quickly. As of now, the Clerk's Office says only a handful of appointments are available for the end of September. The downtown location even opened on several Saturdays this summer to get through the demand.
From here, the State Department says it could take up to 18 weeks to get a passport for regular service. "I was more than a little surprised by that," Anderson said.
If you're in a big rush, you'll have to shell out more cash. "You can get a passport by the fall probably, but you should definitely get an expedited service, so it cost $60 extra," Henderson said.
If you cannot get an appointment at one of the Clerk's Office locations, The Points Guy says you have another option. "What we're telling people to do is go to the nearest big city post office near you that offers passport services and just try to get in line," Henderson said.
According to USPS, thousands of post office locations accept first-time passport applications. "Get the process started at least six months before you're going to travel," Henderson said. "So, if you have winter trips, Christmas trips, you need to get that passport right now if you're going to need that passport when you travel international."