Why You Should Renew Your Passport Right Now

For travelers who have a passport that expires in 2016, the Unites States Department of State is urging people to renew them now in order to avoid congestion later in the year.

According to Julia Preston of the New York Times, the State Department explained that it expects a rush of people to renew their passports over the next two years, a decade after the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative went into effect.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative allowed the department to issue 10-year passports, and there was a serious backlog when they were first handed out in 2006 and 2007. Now, 10 years later, the State Department believes the rush will once again be huge as millions of travelers attempt to renew their passports.

The rush to renew passports is only made more difficult with the surge of travelers who have never been issued a passport and are doing so now due to the Real ID Act. Starting on Jan. 22, 2018, American citizens in states that have not complied with Real ID policy will be forced to show alternative forms of identification, including passports.

The State Department also acknowledged that many foreign countries require travelers to have at least six months on a United States passport before being permitted to enter. The department said it has seen more and more citizens stranded at foreign airports and borders due to the international passport restrictions.

The New York Times is reporting that the State Department believes it will issue more than 17 million new passports and renewals in 2016, an increase of 1.5 million from the previous year.

Bureau of Consular Affairs press officer Beth Finan told FoxNews.com, “Right now, it will take roughly six weeks for a passport renewal, which is two weeks longer than the process took last year. You can also request an expedited passport, which will take three weeks to process and cost an extra $60 on top of the standard $110 renewal fee.”

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