For last-minute bookings, the State Department has taken the online passport appointment system down

You may obtain emergency expedited service if you need your passport renewed and need to fly within 72 hours. The State Department, on the other hand, has taken the capacity to schedule this offline.

We’ve temporarily disabled the online last-minute appointment booking mechanism to guarantee that the few last-minute in-person passport appointments available at one of our agencies or centers go to those who need them for immediate travel.

The only method to make an appointment right now is to contact the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 (TDD/TTY 1-888-874-7793) Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET.

The State Department took this action because individuals are employing bots to book and then sell these appointments.

While passport renewal turnaround times have improved in recent months, even with an expedite charge, you should expect to wait about 3 months (although it can occasionally be as little as 6 weeks). As a result, more individuals are in need of a passport in an emergency, and there aren’t enough appointments available. An appointment is worth hundreds of dollars on the black market.

There’s a common perception that snatching appointments you don’t need and selling them is shady, but it’s not.

  • At the very least, appointments are rationed depending on who is prepared to pay rather than who spends the most time checking the State Department website. There’s probably a shaky link between desire to pay and the necessity to go. At the very least, it favors restricted business travel, which is beneficial to airlines and the expansion of airline schedules.
  • But if there’s anything shady about this, it’s the US government’s failure to meet its fundamental responsibilities. If passports are required to exercise one’s right to travel, the government must provide a fair means of obtaining one. It is not acceptable to wait three months and pay an additional fee.
  • The State Department should be able to deal with bots; if its IT isn’t up to the task, it’s concerning that they’re managing international diplomacy in an age of nation-state hacking.
  • And they should have obviously increased capacity — not just today, but over the past year – to accommodate both routine processing and last-minute appointments to satisfy demand.

Taking the system down solves the acute symptom of bots and resale, but it does nothing to assist people who need passports.

(Photo courtesy of P.H.)

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