The coronavirus pandemic took a significant toll on the travel industry, and the effects are still lingering today. When the pandemic first began, most people couldn’t travel internationally, meaning there wasn’t a need to obtain new passports or renew existing passports. This wasn’t good news for the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, as it gets a considerable amount of its revenue from passport and visa operations. The halting of operations led to the bureau having to dip into its “rainy day” fund, and unfortunately, there’s no telling when this fund could recover.
Why Did the Bureau Need to Use Money From the Fund?
The State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs conducts its passport and visa operations using the revenue made in years prior. Since very little revenue was coming in when COVID started, there was not a lot of money to use when passport operations resumed. This is why the bureau needed to dip into a “rainy day” fund consisting of carryover funds. Money from this fund doesn’t typically need to be used, but it was necessary to keep passport operations running.
How Much Did Revenue Drop During COVID?
The State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs revenue took a massive hit during the coronavirus pandemic. In the 2020 fiscal year, the consular fee revenue dropped 41% to $2.3 billion, compared to nearly $4 billion in the fiscal year prior. This drop in revenue meant that the bureau couldn’t set aside an adequate amount of money for carryover funds, and they had to dip into carryover funds from years prior.
Will Revenue Begin to Increase in Upcoming Years?
People are eager to get back out and travel, and we’ll likely see a substantial boost in travel in the years ahead. The hope is that people will be looking to travel internationally, which will increase the need for passports and the total revenue coming in.
Has the Cost of Obtaining a Passport Increased?
Passport fees increased by $20 on December 27, 2021. A tweet sent out by the State Department stated that passport fees needed to increase so that the government could “continue to produce one of the most secure travel and identity documents in the world.” So, while the increase isn’t significant, the total cost did slightly go up.
When Can We Expect the Passport Fund to Recover?
People are just now starting to become comfortable with the idea of traveling again. This is especially true when it comes to international travel. People want to get out and explore the world, and in most cases, they will need a passport to do so. As more and more people apply for passports, more revenue will come in, slowly replenishing the fund. Although there’s no exact date for when the passport fund will recover, the Government Accountability Office said in a statement that “State officials have indicated that fee revenue may not return to pre-pandemic levels for several fiscal years.”
How Can I Obtain a New Passport or Passport Renewal?
If you’re going to be traveling internationally and need to apply for a new passport or passport renewal, you can get the application process started on the Swift website. If you have any questions about the application process, please don’t hesitate to contact our team. No matter where you plan on going, we’ll get you there!