Extended through March 2022: Americans overseas can return to the US with expired passports – under certain conditions
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.
The U.S. State Department has extended a pandemic policy that allows citizens living outside the United States to return without renewed travel papers if their passports expired during the pandemic — provided they meet certain criteria.
Americans currently living outside the country and holding passports that expired on or after Jan. 1, 2020, may be able to use their expired U.S. passport for direct return travel back to the U.S. until March 31, 2022.
Typically, travelers must have a passport that is valid for at least six months to be able to travel to most countries. But thousands of Americans have reportedly been stuck overseas because they can’t get renewal appointments at embassies or consulates due to the fact that many are either understaffed or closed due to COVID-19.
The change in policy was originally made “to alleviate travel difficulties and unprecedented appointment backlogs created by the global COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a State Department statement.
An estimated nine million U.S. citizens currently live abroad.
Related: How and when to renew your passport
Only U.S. citizens seeking to travel directly back to the United States qualify for the exception to travel with an expired passport. It must be in your possession, unaltered and undamaged. Your expired passport must also have been valid originally for 10 years. If you were 15 years of age or younger when the passport was issued, your expired passport must have been valid for 5 years. All American citizens — regardless of vaccination status — returning to the U.S. must still show proof of a negative COVID test result, now taken within one calendar day of departure.
It’s important to point out that the exception does not allow Americans overseas to travel to other countries with an expired passport.
President Biden did sign an executive order on Dec. 13, 2021, that directs the State Department to offer online passport renewals in the future that don’t require any physical documents to be mailed. If and when that option becomes available, renewing a passport will hopefully take much less time and effort than the current process. However, it’s important to note that a timeline for creation or implementation for such a program has yet to be announced.
In the meantime, this policy provides a much-needed respite for Americans living abroad who are unable to get their passports renewed at present.
Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor.
Featured image by Clint Henderson / The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees