The Department of State and U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that U.S. citizens with expired U.S. passports meeting certain criteria will be allowed to return to the United States. This accommodation was created due to the unprecedented backlog in U.S. passport renewal appointments at U.S. Embassies and Consulates and travel limitations related to COVID-19, which have caused many U.S. citizens to get stuck outside the country with an expired U.S. passport. https://www.state.gov/return-travel-on-recently-expired-u-s-passports/
U.S. citizens who are abroad with U.S. passports that expired on or after Jan. 1, 2020 can use their expired U.S. passport for direct return travel to the United States until Dec. 31, 2021. To be eligible, you must be flying directly to the United States or a U.S. territory or taking connecting flights with a short-term stopover on your direct return to the United States or a U.S. territory.
Further, your expired U.S. passport must have been originally valid for 10 years, or, if you were age 15 or younger when the passport was issued, it had to have been valid for five years. The expired passport must also be undamaged, unaltered and in your possession.
What Travel Does Not Qualify
This accommodation is intended to help U.S. citizens return home. You cannot use your expired U.S. passport to depart from the United States to an international destination. You also cannot use your expired U.S. passport to travel to a foreign country for any length of stay in excess of an airport connection on your way back to the United States.
The exception also does not apply to expired U.S. passports that were limited in validity or expired special issuance passports, such as diplomatic, official, service or no-fee regular passports. Additionally, as stated above, if your expired passport is damaged, altered or missing, or if it expired prior to Jan. 1, 2020, you are not eligible for this accommodation.
COVID-19 Test Requirements
In order to fly to the United States, you must have proof of a negative result from a COVID-19 test that was taken within 72 hours of your flight’s departure or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days. The latter requires proof of the positive viral test and a letter from a healthcare provider or public health official stating that you were cleared for travel. Airlines are required to confirm the negative result or proof of recovery for all passengers aged 2 or older, regardless of vaccination status, prior to boarding. However, COVID-19 rules can change, so check for updates before you travel. Also, as airlines may adopt and modify their own specific policies, inquire about your carrier’s rules before your trip.
As a U.S. citizen, you are exempt from the Presidential Proclamations that prohibit most travelers from entering the United States if they have been in Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the countries of Europe’s Schengen Area within the last 14 days. However, you are expected to follow CDC guidelines for testing and quarantining upon your return, which are less stringent if you are vaccinated with an FDA- or World Health Organization-authorized vaccine. Check for updates to CDC guidelines before traveling.
Applying for a New U.S. Passport
Once you return to the United States, do not hesitate to renew your U.S. passport. Applications can be submitted by mail or in-person through a community acceptance facility, such as a post office, court clerk or library, the processing time for routine service is currently about 10 to 12 weeks. If you need to travel internationally sooner than that, you can pay an additional $60 fee to expedite your application and receive a U.S. passport in 4 to 6 weeks. Some limited in-person service is offered at U.S. passport agencies and centers for those who need to travel internationally in the next 3 business days.
The immigration attorneys at Barst are available for questions related to travel to the United States for U.S. citizens, U.S. passport renewals and all other U.S. passport and U.S. citizen queries. For general inquiries or to set up a consultation, please visit https://bmkllp.com/contact-us/.