Although coronavirus cases are declining in the U.S., the virus is still raging in other nations, and many places remain in lockdown or shelter-in-place. As a result, most embassies and consulates remain largely closed down in other countries.
This has led about 100,000 Americans to be trapped abroad because they are unable to renew their passports. To solve the problem, the U.S. State Department has announced that U.S. citizens will be allowed to re-enter the country with an expired passport. Here’s what you need to know.
Why is the State Department Accepting Expired Passports
The U.S. State Department is now allowing Americans to re-enter the country with expired passports because U.S. citizens have had difficulty renewing their passports while abroad. Many consulates and embassies have only limited appointments available. Americans abroad are required to have an in-person appointment to renew their passports, and many have been unable to get one for months. This new policy allows them to re-enter the country even if they can’t renew their documents.
Can You Travel to Other Countries with an Expired Passport?
The State Department’s policy does not allow Americans to travel to any other country with an expired passport, only re-enter the U.S. The one exception to this rule is that Americans can enter other countries for layovers or connecting flights on their way back to the U.S., but they cannot stay there. The policy is in place to give U.S citizens a means to get home, rather than allow them to travel freely.
What Are the Rules for Traveling on An Expired Passport?
To enter the U.S. from abroad with an expired passport, your passport must have expired on or before January 1, 2020. You must have your expired passport in your possession, and it needs to be unaltered and undamaged. Limited validity passports, and special issuance passports like diplomatic passports, don't qualify for the expired passport provision. Americans entering the U.S. from abroad, whether or not their passport is up-to-date, must provide negative COVID-19 test results from within 72 hours of arrival.
More On Coronavirus Travel
Download the Skip App to stay up-to-date on government news, travel regulations, and more information for travelers like you. We can also help prepare you for your next trip with a renewed passport or TSA PreCheck enrollment.