The U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) predicts there will be a surge in passport applications this year which may result in some U.S. citizens being unable to secure new or revalidated passports in advance of planned travel abroad. The following are likely causes for this anticipated spike in demand:
- Many U.S. citizens returning from Mexico, Canada and Bermuda have found themselves temporarily stranded abroad because they were unaware of passport requirements under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (“WHTI”).
- Provisions of the Real ID Act of 2005 (“The Act”) have been misinterpreted as requiring domestic air passengers to possess valid U.S. passports due to fears that state-issued driver licenses will no longer satisfy identity documentation required by the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”).
- Many European countries are now requiring U.S. travelers to have passport validity for at least three months beyond their intended date of departure from Europe. Some U.S. travelers have been refused boarding by commercial carriers for failure to comply with this recent development.
DOS urges U.S. citizens to apply early for renewal of passports expiring in 2016. If you are renewing your passport, you can also do so by mail. Please see the U.S. Department of State website for current passport requirements, processing times, and fee schedule.