Government shutdown is causing passport concerns for travelers

POSTED: 05:29 PM CDT Oct 01, 2013    UPDATED: 05:44 PM CDT Oct 01, 2013 
COLUMBIA, Mo. -

The government shutdown brings concerns for travelers. National monuments and tourist spots are closed across the nation, including the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

Those traveling out of the country still needing passports are worried. Government officials warn that there could be delays in processing passport and visa applications.

The government is still working to process applications during the shutdown because the funds come from outside the budget.

However, during the last government shutdown more than a decade ago, 25,000 applications from foreigners for visas went unprocessed each day, and 20,000 passports went unprocessed.

A travel agent in Columbia told ABC 17 News that if this shutdown continues, travelers should be concerned, especially with Thanksgiving trips coming up.

"I don't think people are panicked yet, it's just been one day, but I think it will make a difference if it continues," said travel agent Jill Allen.

According to the U.S. Department of State, the average wait time for passports is four weeks. Those needing immediate help are told to go to a passport agency.

There are more than 200 in Missouri, but those in federal buildings will be closed during the shutdown.