U.S. Passport Renewal Delays
If your passport is anywhere near you, take a moment and check the expiration date. If that date is anytime during the next 24 months, it might be best to start the renewal process now or soon. In 2007, the United States began mandating that travelers to Mexico and Canada have a valid passport not just a birth certificate and other identification as had previously been the case. This lead to a large backlog of applications and extensive processing delays. Since passports are valid for 10 years, that means 2017 and 2018 will be very large years for renewals and could create similar delays.
In addition, beginning next January, individuals who run out of visa/stamp pages in their passports will be required to obtain a new passport rather than just having new pages inserted, which had previously been allowed. You can now request a passport with either 28 or 52 pages of visa/stamp pages. Since there is no difference in cost, the 52-page option seems make the most sense although the government reports that 90% of all passports returned have less than two pages used.
A persistent misconception is that there is a specific period prior to renewal when a passport can be renewed. This is not true. A passport can be renewed at any time.
You probably already know these, but here are a couple of other items about passports. Passports for children under 16 years of age are valid for only five years. Many countries require that passports have at least six months of validity at the time of arrival on their soil. Always be sure to search thoroughly before reporting a passport lost. Once reported missing, there is no procedure for having it reinstated if found. An entirely new passport must be issued.
Passports are typically not required for cruises that begin and end in a U.S. port. However, I think a passport is still a good idea even in this case. All that’s necessary is an injury or illness that requires you to fly home in the middle of the cruise, and suddenly a passport becomes critical.
Howard C. Klepser
Chief Executive Officer
Association Travel Pros