What to Know About Passports in the Wake of COVID-19
Having a passport is key for those looking to travel internationally and making sure it's up to date and renewed is a huge part of the process.
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect their workforce and customers, the U.S. Department of State Travel significantly reduced passport operations in March 2020, including temporarily suspending expedited passport processing and restricting services to cases involving life-or-death emergencies.
As global conditions continue to evolve, and as states and health authorities adapt their operational recommendations, the Department says it's looking forward to resuming routine passport processing, while protecting the safety of staff and customers.
The Department also says it's planning to gradually reopen in three phases this summer as part of the U.S. Department of State's Diplomacy Strong plan, which follows guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for safely reopening, noting each passport agency and center will open on a different date based on local conditions. To accommodate the current travel climate, the Department of Homeland Security has also extended the deadline for travelers to obtain REAL ID to October 1, 2021.
A statement on the U.S. Department of State Travel website offered insight for future passport operations:
"We continue to experience significant delays in passport processing, as our staff are unable to process applications from home due to strict standards for security and privacy protection for customers. This includes applications by customers who already applied for routine service at passport acceptance facilities or who mailed in renewal applications since March. We ask for your patience as we gradually resume normal operations and address COVID-19 related processing delays."
The Department says they're committed to working as hard to process applications as quickly as possible, as soon as it is safe for them do so.
To see some frequently asked questions and more information on COVID-19 related updates, see the U.S. Department of State Travel COVID-19 update page.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for Groups Today.