Getting a new or renewed passport could take longer than normal this year.
U.S. government officials are anticipating a higher volume of renewals in 2017 because a whole bunch of travelers got new passports in 2007, and now those documents are reaching their 10-year expiration dates. Processing all of those renewals will take some time.
What was so special about 2007? That was when a law went into effect that requires U.S. citizens to have passports in order to travel to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. (Before that, you could get in with a driver's license or any other government-issued ID.)
What this all means for those planning to travel outside the U.S. by the end of 2017: If you need to renew your passport or get your first one, do it now. The State Department takes about six weeks to process an application in a good year, and that's without the influx of renewals they're expecting in this one. Not to mention that many countries now require a passport to be valid for six months prior to travel.
For more information or to get started on your application, visit the State Department's website.