Increase in Passport applications?

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Now is a good time to apply for a passport, even if you don’t have any immediate travel plans. That’s because the US State Department anticipates a significant increase in applications through 2018, that could result in delays. What’s behind the spike?

Reason for surge

The reason for the unprecedented surge has to do with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). 

The initiative, which went into effect in 2007, requires all citizens in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda to have a passport in order to enter or depart the United States from within the Western Hemisphere.

This change in travel document requirements is the result of recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, which Congress subsequently passed into law in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

Ten years later

A decade later, those passports are now starting to expire. The State Department estimates over 15.5 million passports or passport renewals were issued in 2015. And, the increased demand will likely continue through 2018.

When does a passport expires

Many travelers are surprised to learn that a passport must be valid for at least six months beyond trip dates for travel to some countries. Also, some airlines will not allow a traveler to board if this requirement is not met. This is why early renewal is so important.

Tip: Find the expiration date on the data page of your Passport Book or on the front of a Passport Card.

Easiest way to renew or apply for the first time

If travelers notice their passport is close to expiring there are some easy ways to renew.

By mail: You can renew a passport conveniently by mail at any time if you meet certain criteria.

In person: If you are applying for the first time or are under 16 years old, you must appear in person at a passport acceptance facility, including designated U.S. post offices, clerks of court, and public libraries.  Passport acceptance facilities offer routine service (6 weeks) and expedited service (3 weeks). Be aware that the expedited service costs an additional . 

For more information on how or where to apply, please visit Travel.State.Gov/ApplyEarly or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778/1-888-874-7793 (TTY/TTD).

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