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NEW YORK — It’s the hottest ticket in town right now: An appointment to get a new or renewed passport.

As of Tuesday, more than 1 million passports were being processed and the State Department was facing a serious backlog while operating under strict COVID-19 guidelines. 

The State Department said wait times for both new and routine renewal passport applications were 12 to 18 weeks, including the time it takes to move through the mail system.

Americans should apply for or renew a passport at least six months ahead of when they will need one in order to avoid last-minute problems.  

Customers also can pay an extra $60 to expedite their application. Wait times for expedited applications are six to 12 weeks, depending on mailing times.

While the State Department is only accepting appointments at its agencies for life-or-death emergencies, many post offices, clerks of court, and public libraries also handle standard renewals and new applications.

However, Rep. Kathleen Rice, who represents parts of Long Island, said some companies are trying to profit on hard-to-get passport appointments by blocking off chunks of time and selling appointments. She urged the State Department to crack down on the abusive practice.

In response, a spokesperson for the State Department told PIX11: “We are aware of these issues and are working to prevent them. The Department of State does not charge a fee solely for booking an emergency appointment at one of our agencies or centers. Any request for payment for scheduling a U.S. passport appointment should be considered fraudulent.”

The best way to get a new or renewed passport, according to the State Department, is to mail-in your form, documents and fee.

For more information about passport fees, try the State Department’s calculator