Travel Tuesday with Danielle ~ CHECK YOUR PASSPORT!

by Danielle Garrett of PlanIt Travel Designs for The Aha! Connection

First, before you read another word, grab your passport (and each family member’s passport) and look at your expiration dates!  I have had more people than ever before dealing with expired passports.  People are coming out of Covid ready to travel, but some are realizing their passport is expired and it is nearly impossible to get one in under a month.  More fallout from Covid!  You can no longer walk into the Atlanta Passport Agency in Midtown for a same day passport.  It is virtually impossible to get an on-line appointment quickly and they are requiring you to have a true life or death emergency and traveling within 72 hours to get a passport quickly. 

Government agencies that process passports were closed during Covid, which is now causing a major backup.  Mail processing is also adding to this delay.  Mail delays are adding up to 6 weeks to the processing time.  And the U.S. State Department has announced they are further scaling back operations at its Regional Passport Agencies and acceptance facilities (post offices and libraries), so this passport issue is not going to resolve itself any time soon.

Currently, routine passport processing is taking up to 18 weeks and expedited (an extra $60) is taking up to 12 weeks.  TIP: Pay extra for 1–2-day mail delivery!  Also, send your application via trackable mail for you to track progress.

Some people are turning to their local government representative, a congressman/woman as their only hope of getting their passport processed relatively quickly.  Lucy McBath is one option and I have seen some success, but there are no guarantees.  You must have a purchased flight itinerary already booked.

Below are some more tips and guidelines:

  • It is easy to renew your passport by mail. Click here to see if you are eligible.
  • Brand new passports and anyone renewing under 16 (or their last passport was processed when they were younger than 16) must be done in person). Click here for more info on how to apply in person.  Don’t delay, I had to wait a month for an available appointment for my son!  Click here to fill out the DS-11 form on-line.
  • If traveling internationally in the future, your passport must be valid 6 months after your return date. So, if you are returning from Italy on October 1 and your passport expires on November 1, you may be denied boarding!  Many international destinations have this rule.
  • Make sure to check your children’s passports too! Do not assume if your passport is good that your child is too.  Adult passports are good for 10 years, but children’s passports (under 16) are only good for 5 years.  So, if your kid is 18-20 years old, but they were under 16 when they received their last passport…It is probably about to expire. 
  • Check your passport before booking flights!
  • Some areas in the U.S. are reporting longer delays even when expediting.
  • The days of using a 3rd party rush service to expedite your passport are gone for now. This is not an option at the moment.

BOTTOM LINE: If you plan to travel internationally within the next 6 months or even further out in 2022, do not delay!  Check all expiration dates in your family and remember the 6-month rule!

Don’t let this be you!

Please remember to travel responsibly, wear your mask and do not travel unnecessarily if you are elderly or immune-compromised! And remember to check your destination’s travel restrictions/requirements before and during planning, as well as double-checking before departure!

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