This year will see a number of important changes in the way millions of Americans obtain, renew and use their passports when traveling even within the US. Make sure you’re all set to hit the road, especially if your passport is about to expire, and let your relatives who will acquire or renew their passport know about the 2018 passport changes.
According to the State Department, a massive backlog of passport applications is expected to take place in 2018, as more than 21 million Americans applied for passports last year. This is why the Bureau of Consular Affairs is offering a short-term alleviation in the form of online passport renewals. The following top 5 changes are being planned for how you obtain, renew and use your passport starting from mid-2018.
You must take your passport with you even on domestic flights
Effective January 22, 2018, air travelers with a driver’s license that doesn’t meet the REAL ID Act requirements have to use an alternative form of ID in order to board a domestic flight. A US passport card and passport book are both acceptable forms of ID, however, if you don’t have either and you’re from a state that hasn’t been given an extension, you should get a passport as soon as possible.
You can apply for and renew your passport online from the comfort of your home
The State Department is going digital! You will be able to apply for and renew your passport online starting mid-2018, says Carl Siegmund, community relations officer for passport services at the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. The new online platform will let you submit your photo, apply for or renew your passport online from the convenience of your home. Siegmund announced the Bureau’s big decision to move from paper to digital during a recent government symposium in Washington, D.C.
You can receive your passport status updates via email or SMS
In 2018, applicants will be able to check how far along their passport is in the application or renewal process via email or SMS from anywhere. Great news for those who constantly move around with only their laptop or mobile device at hand, like freelance workers or business travelers. Stay updated on your status 24/7 wherever you are without wasting your time trying to get through to your passport services center.
Waiting for a new or renewed passport still may take twice as long
The State Department expects a serious system overload during the first half of the year that may slow down the standard passport routine to 6-7 weeks. Apply earlier if you plan on traveling and have already booked your tickets.
The State Department will hold Passport Acceptance Fairs at fairs all across the US
These special Passport Acceptance Fairs will be held all across the country to help you get your passport sooner and figure out how the new regulations apply to your passport. The State Department recommends adults who are first-time applicants and all children to apply early and avoid the rush.
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