Some U.S. citizens may return to the country with expired passports



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(CNN) – Some U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad may return to the United States if their passports have expired.

The U.S. Department of State issued a note on December 28 stating that citizens who meet specific criteria will be able to return to their home country before March 31, 2022 with expired passports.

However, there are many conditions that apply.

On the one hand, not all overdue U.S. passports will be acceptable as a return document. This exemption applies to U.S. citizens who are currently abroad and returning to the United States (who do not leave the country and go elsewhere) whose passports expired after January 1. 2020.

Also, only certain types of passports are relevant. The expired document in question must have been an original 10-year passport, with the exception of people under the age of 15 when the passport was issued, because it is a five-year passport.

These passports must be unaltered and in the possession of the owner.

Americans who meet this criterion may return to the United States or U.S. territory until the end of March 2022. Short stops are allowed, as some destinations do not have direct flights back to the United States.

This is the second major passport news announced this week.

As of Dec. 27, the cost of obtaining a new U.S. passport has increased by $ 20, from $ 110 to $ 130 for a 10-year document.

“The fare increase is necessary to ensure that we continue to produce one of the safest identity and travel documents in the world,” the State Department wrote in a tweet.

One of the likely reasons for this expired passport amnesty is the delay in pandemic renewals. The State Department website advises Americans to expect a passport renewal to take between eight and 11 weeks, although people may pay a $ 60 fee to expedite the process.

That said, government officials have admitted that the wait for the past two years has been longer than usual.

Rachel Arndt, Undersecretary of Passport Services, told a news conference this summer that it was not uncommon for passport applications to take up to 18 weeks, “and that includes our processing time, initial internal reception. of applications, and mail “. This was the case for renewal and first-time applications.

At the time, it was estimated that there were between 1.5 and 2 million pending passport applications.

Americans abroad whose passports expire before January 1, 2022 are not entirely lucky. These citizens, along with people whose passports have been lost or stolen, can apply for an emergency passport that will allow them to return to the United States.

These documents, however, will only be valid for one-way travel back to the United States, so people who obtain these emergency passports will need to follow the usual procedure to obtain a new passport later.

For more specific questions, the State Department advises Americans to register at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate where they are located. Americans living abroad or spending a large amount of time abroad must sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the latest travel notifications and alerts. security.
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