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By The Way
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What to know about getting a U.S. passport in 2023

How to get a passport for the first time, renew online and avoid expediting scams

(iStock/Washington Post Illustration)

The pandemic threw a wrench in the well-oiled machine of U.S. passport services. When offices were closed, in-person appointments were impossible and employees were figuring out how to work in the new normal, millions of passport applications got backlogged.

Fast forward a few years, and we’re not quite back to the 2019 norm, but we’re nearly there. Wait times are down, you can take your own photos (if you follow directions with military precision) and a new online system is rolling out for passport renewals that makes the process a lot easier (if you meet the specific criteria).

We checked in with the State Department to get the latest information on what travelers need to know about passport services.

How to replace — and avoid — a damaged passport