U.S. passport changes are coming: Here’s what you need to know
Changes are in the works for how millions of Americans obtain, renew and use their passport. Many of the changes will take effect in 2018, and these are the top updates that every traveler should know.
You Will Soon Be Able To Renew Your Passport Online
According to Carl Siegmund, the community relations officer for passport services at the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, you should be able to renew your passport online by mid-2018. This comes as the department works to be more “future-focused” and move from a paper process to digital functionality.
Special Passport Acceptance Fairs Will Pop Up For First-Time Applicants
The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs has begun to hold events around the country to help first-time passport applicants and children obtain their passports earlier and faster. Expect to see events like the ones found here more often in the new year.
Passport Status Updates Are About To Improve
Currently, if you want to check the status of your new or renewed passport, you have to constantly check the State Department’s outdated website or call the passport service center which receives more than one million calls per year. In 2018, status updates will come via email or SMS to keep applicants up to date on applications according to Conde Nast Traveler.
You May Need A Passport To Fly Domestically
Beginning on January 22, 2018, state-issued driver’s licenses that don’t meet the REAL ID Act requirements will not be good enough to board domestic flights. U.S. passport cards and passports may be required to fly within the U.S. if your state has yet to comply with the REAL ID mandates.
Double-check children’s passports
If you’ve lost track of when your own passport needs renewing and you travel with children, double-check your child’s passport as well. Child passports are only valid for five years, and they’re subject to more paperwork, like parental consent forms and proof of a parent-child relationship.
It May Take Longer To Get Your Passport
Back in 2007, the government made passports a requirement for travel to the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada. Since Americans applied for passports in droves after the mandate, it’s time for all of those passports to be renewed. While processing for passports normally take 4-6 weeks, expect passports to take longer to process at the beginning due to the rush.
How to renew your passport
You can apply for or renew a passport online through the State Department, or in person at an eligible local agency like the post office. Make sure you follow instructions carefully and meet all the requirements, like the new rule against wearing glasses in your passport photo. Doing so could further delay the process.
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