Check your passport to see when it expires. If you’re one of the millions of American travelers whose passport expires in 2017, renew it now to avoid the onslaught of renewals next year.
Why are so many passports expiring in 2017? More than 18 million U.S. passports were issued in 2007 when the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative took effect. The law requires all travelers, including U.S. citizens, to present a valid passport when entering the United States from Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, and other areas of the Western Hemisphere.
Most U.S. passports are valid for ten years, so all those passports issued in 2007 are beginning to expire next year.
Even if you don’t have plans to travel internationally, it’s a good idea to monitor your passport’s expiration date and maintain a passport that’s valid for at least one year. Many countries require that your passport be valid for at least six months from the dates you plan to visit the country, and some airlines won’t allow you to board an international flight if your passport is expiring within six months. You could be facing a stressful situation if unexpected travel plans arise and your passport is expiring within the year.
The State Department processes passports for U.S. citizens. A passport typically takes four to six weeks to process, though the process can take up to three months or longer when demand is high. Typically, demand for passports is highest from January through August, though demand is expected to be high throughout 2017 and into 2018. Applicants can request expedited processing, which takes three weeks, for an additional $60 fee.
To renew a passport, you’ll need to complete a passport application and take a current 2-inch by 2-inch color photo. Many applicants will be able to mail the application, their existing passport, and the fee to the State Department’s processing center. However, some applicants may be required to make a personal appearance before an acceptance agent.
To get started applying for a new passport or renewing an existing passport, visit the State Department’s website.