Travel insights from Andrea Sedlacek, editor of The Compass

U.S. State Department Not Currently Issuing New Passports

Travelers hoping to get a passport will have to wait for an indefinite amount of time, as the U.S. State Department has stopped issuing new passports except for travelers who need a passport because of a qualified life or death emergency.

Last updated on April 3, the State Department’s website says, “Because of public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, effective March 20, 2020, we are only able to offer in-person service at passport agencies or centers for customers with a qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours.”

According to the State Department, “Life-or-death emergencies are serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family (e.g., parent, child, spouse, sibling, aunt, uncle, etc.) that require you to travel outside the United States within 72 hours (3 days).” The State Department requires ravelers needing to apply for a passport for this situation to provide:

  • A passport application with supporting documents
  • Proof of the life-or-death emergency such as a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional. Documents must be in English or translated in English.
  • Proof of international travel (e.g. reservation, ticket, itinerary) specific to the emergency

Expedited passport service was suspended on March 19.

Travelers can still renew passports through the mail, but will likely be met with significant delays.

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