Urgent warning for Americans following rule change on passports

In 2020, the US government brought in a new rule to help travellers. It was designed to remove a barrier to travel, at a time when tests, paperwork and quarantining made taking a flight a stressful process.

But that rule has recently been revoked, meaning US passport holders should urgently check their documents.

US passport validity rule scrapped

During the pandemic, the US State Department ruled that US passport holders could travel on expired passports.

The policy applied to passports which expired on or after 1 January 2020.

This rule was originally supposed to end in March of this year, but it was then extended until 30 June.

It was created due to “unprecedented [passport] appointment backlogs“. In 2021, some passengers had to wait as long as 18 weeks to get their passports.

But as of 1 July 2022, the State Department announced, those returning to the US will have to hold a valid passport in order to get past border checks.

“If your passport has expired, please contact your nearest US Embassy or Consulate to apply for a US passport,” the State Department said in its website update.

How to renew a US passport

If your US passport is due to run out soon, the government recommends filling out your renewal application form as soon as possible. This is especially important if the country you are going to requires your passport to be valid for at least 6 months for entry or departure.

Countries like Australia and Canada require your passport to be valid for the length of your stay, while others such as China, Thailand, Egypt and Turkey need at least six months.

How long do US passport applications take?

The US State Department estimates that it takes eight to 11 weeks to process a passport application at the moment.

But if your trip is fast approaching, you can pay $60 (€60) to get it expedited in five to seven weeks.

How are the new US passports different?

If you’re after a renewal, your next US passport is likely to look different to your old one. There are improved features on this one.

Called the ‘Next Generation Passport’ (NGP), this new iteration of the classic version has enhanced security features. This includes a “polycarbonate data page, laser-engraved personalisation, and updated artwork.”

And your previous photo will be transformed into a laser-engraved, black-and-white image, with the page itself set to become more durable.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the new US passport is more expensive – at $165 in total, $20 (€20) more than before the pandemic, when it was $145.

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