Pandemic rule that allowed US travelers reentry with expired passports ends July 1

Jun 29, 2022

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As of July 1, Americans returning to the U.S. from abroad are no longer allowed to enter the country with an expired U.S. passport. This had previously been allowed for passports that expired from Jan. 1, 2020, onward.

In addition to needing a valid passport to enter the U.S., Americans planning to travel abroad should remember that many countries require you to have a minimum of six months of validity left on your passport at the time of your visit.

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State extended leniency for passports between Jan. 1, 2020, and June 30, 2022, to allow American citizens to travel into the U.S. from overseas. This was possible assuming these citizens met certain conditions, including direct travel to the U.S. with an expired passport that was originally valid for 10 years, with an exception for passports issued for kids under age 16 (which are only valid for five years, unlike the 10-year validity for adult passports).

While this rule permitted certain people to travel with expired passports for the past 2 1/2 years, the State Department says that will no longer be the case starting Thursday.

“You will not be permitted to use your expired U.S. passport to return to the United States after June 30, 2022,” according to the State Department, which urges travelers with expired passports to apply for a new passport as soon as possible.

In order to renew an expired passport, you must have received an adult passport within the previous 15 years. Those whose names may have changed since getting their passport must present proof of a legal name change if their current name does not match the name on their passport. Additionally, you cannot renew an expired passport if it is damaged.

Related: A complete guide to the 6-month passport validity rule

If you are planning on renewing your passport this summer, it will most likely take between eight and 11 weeks for routine processing or five to seven weeks for expedited service, plus mailing time.

Routine processing costs $130 for a passport book plus an additional $30 for a passport card (plus an additional $35 fee for new passports); expedited service costs an extra $60. You must submit both documents if renewing a passport card and book.

“Processing times begin the day we receive your application at a passport agency or center, not the day you mail your application or apply,” the State Department notes.

You can renew your passport prior to its expiration date, and the State Department urges travelers to apply for renewal a minimum of six months in advance of expiration. This is because many countries adhere to a six-month passport validity rule requiring travelers to have passports that do not expire for at least six months.

passport validity rules
(Screenshot from the State Department)

“Apply several months in advance for a new passport. If you already have one, it should be valid for at least six months after you return home and have two or more blank pages, depending on your destination,” per the State Department. “Otherwise, some countries may not let you enter.”

For example, 26 countries within the European Union enforce the aforementioned six-month validity rule, along with much of Asia, South America and Africa.

Other countries, including Canada, the Bahamas and Bermuda, only require that your passport is valid at the time you enter the country. In order to visit the United Kingdom, Ireland and Mexico, your passport needs to be valid for the entire duration of your stay.

Related: Why you should renew your child’s 5-year passport after 4 years

Beyond a specific passport validity time frame, most countries require that travelers have at least one blank page in their passport to stamp.

To verify all entry requirements for a specific country, including passport validity rules, head to the State Department’s website and enter your specific destination.

map and journal
(Screenshot from the State Department)

Bottom line

The government’s decision to revoke previous rules that allowed U.S. citizens to enter the country from abroad with expired passports is part of an overall lifting of COVID-19-related restrictions across countries.

Regardless of whether you have upcoming travel plans, double-check your passport expiration date and submit it for renewal well ahead of that date — you may encounter processing delays.

Although wait times for passport turnarounds have consistently decreased as the agency works through the application backlog from passport centers being closed during the pandemic, it’s safe to begin the renewal process at least seven months ahead of expiration, at the very minimum.

Related: How long do I need on my passport to travel? A country-by-country breakdown

Featured photo of MistikaS/Getty Images.

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