Picture this: you’re all set to embark on an exciting journey, but as you reach for your passport, you realize it’s already expired.
The thought of missing out on your travel plans can be overwhelming, and you may be left wondering if traveling with an expired passport is even an option.
To make matters worse, passport processing times have been notoriously long recently. However, there’s no need to panic.
In this article, we’ll outline essential information on traveling with an expired passport, passport renewal procedures, and ways to expedite the renewal process in case you’re running out of time before your scheduled trip.
Can you travel with an expired passport?
If you’re traveling internationally, the short answer is no, you cannot use an expired passport. You must renew your passport if it’s expired or will expire within the next six months.
On the other hand, domestic travel is a bit more complicated. Although a passport is not required for domestic flights, you need a valid ID to pass through TSA checkpoints, and an expired passport is not considered valid.
If you only have an expired passport, you can still bring it along for domestic travel within the United States, but you must convince TSA officers that you are who you say you are. However, if you’re traveling internationally, you must have a valid passport.
If you can’t renew your passport in time, rescheduling your trip may be necessary, although expedited passport renewal services such as RushMyPassport may help.
As of July 1st 2022, in an update to policies implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. citizens will not be able to use an expired passport to the United States.
The Department of State advises anyone traveling on an expired passport to contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for a U.S. passport.
Can you travel to Mexico or Canada on an expired passport?
If you’re planning a trip to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean, you’ll need to be aware of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which requires U.S. citizens to carry a valid passport book for air travel to any of these destinations. However, the rules are more flexible for land and sea travel.
For travelers over 16 years old, any of the following documents are acceptable:
- A valid passport book.
- A valid passport card.
- An enhanced driver’s license (currently offered in only a select few states).
- A Trusted Traveler card (NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST cards).
Children under 16 can use a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship, and children under 19 can do the same if they’re traveling with a school, church, or youth group.
It’s important to note that an expired passport is not considered a valid ID under the WHTI. Although you may not be required to present a valid passport to enter Canada or Mexico by land or sea, you will need it when you return to the U.S. If you try to cross the border with an expired passport, Customs and Border Patrol officers may require additional verification of your identity and citizenship before allowing you back into the country.
For more, see Do You Need a Passport to Go to Mexico? and Do You Need a Passport to Go to Canada?
Can you go on a cruise with an expired passport?
If you’re planning a cruise, you may be wondering if you can go on it with an expired passport. The answer depends on the type of cruise you’re taking.
If you’re on a closed-loop cruise that starts and ends at the same U.S. port, you may be able to use a driver’s license and a birth certificate instead of a valid passport or passport card. However, it’s important to check with your cruise line and the countries you’ll be visiting to make sure you have the necessary documents.
Even if you don’t need a passport for your specific cruise, it’s always a good idea to have a valid passport with you. If you have an emergency or you need to leave the ship at a foreign port, a passport can make it easier to get help or return to the U.S. Plus, if you miss your ship or need to fly back to the U.S. for any reason, you’ll need a valid passport to do so.
What happens if you try to travel with an expired passport?
At the Airport
For international flights: If you are traveling internationally, attempting to board your flight with an expired passport will not be possible. Even if you are permitted on the plane, you will likely be turned away upon arrival. It is not worth the risk, so renew your passport before you travel.
For domestic flights: For domestic flights, bring an alternate form of valid, government-issued photo identification to the TSA checkpoint. If an expired passport is the only ID you have, bring additional documents that can confirm your identity.
Driving to Canada or Mexico
When driving to Canada or Mexico, allow extra time for crossing the border, and keep in mind that the other country may refuse entry due to improper documentation. Upon re-entry into the United States, expect to be temporarily detained while your identity and citizenship are confirmed.
Although an expired passport might be useful in this situation, it’s best to avoid the hassle altogether and obtain a new passport or passport card to comply with the law.
Passport Validity Requirements
Did you know that many countries require you to have at least 6 months left before the expiration date on your passport in order to enter? If your passport is expiring in the next year, check our list of passport validity requirements for top destinations to see if you need to renew before traveling.
What is the Six-Month Validity Rule?
The six-month validity rule for passports is a requirement by many countries that a traveler’s passport has at least six months left before it expires, in order to be allowed entry into the country.
This means that if a passport is set to expire within six months of the traveler’s arrival in a foreign country, the traveler may be turned away.
The rule of thumb for international travelers is to always have at least 6-months validity on their passports to avoid complications during their trip or in the event of an emergency that potentially extends their stay.
How to Renew Your Passport
If your passport has expired and you need a renewal, you’re eligible to renew your passport using application Form DS-82 as long as all of the following conditions apply:
- Your current passport has not been lost, stolen, or damaged.
- Your current passport was issued after your 16th birthday.
- Your current passport was issued no more than 15 years ago.
- Your current passport was issued in your current legal name, or you have legal proof of your name change.
Required Documents for Passport Renewal
If you’re planning to renew your passport, the process is straightforward and requires a few essential documents.
To ensure a smooth passport application, it’s important to have the necessary paperwork ready in advance.You’ll need the following documents to renew a U.S. passport
- DS-82 Passport Application
- Passport Photo
- Expired or Expiring U.S. Passport
- Government Fees
- Proof of Name Change (if applicable)
- Travel Itinerary (applicable if expediting)
Where To Apply For A Passport Renewal
If you are eligible to renew your passport, you have several options for where to apply, with specific service times depending on your situation.
No matter which option you choose, make sure to plan ahead and allow sufficient time for processing.
Applying for a Passport Renewal at a Passport Acceptance Facility
If you have international travel planned but not in the near future, you can simply apply for standard routine passport services at a United States Post Office or another Passport Acceptance Facility, such as a library or a county clerk office.
Although the standard processing time for a passport renewal can take up to 13 weeks from the date of application, the actual processing time can vary depending on the current workload of the passport office.
If you need to receive your renewed passport sooner, you can request expedited processing for an additional fee of $60, not including shipping or the required application fees. This will trim down the processing time to an estimated 7-9 weeks.
It’s important to keep in mind that these processing times are estimations that start from the date the Department of State receives your application, not from the date you submit.
Applying for a Passport Renewal at a Regional Passport Agency
In case of urgent travel plans within 14 days, you have the option to schedule an appointment with a Regional Passport Agency for expedited passport processing within 3 business days.
While this may seem like the best option, there are some limitations. Only 26 Regional Passport Agencies in the entire country offer this service, and there are strict requirements for eligibility.
According to the U.S. Department of State, to be eligible for an emergency passport appointment, you must either:
- Have urgent international travel within 14 calendar days or need a foreign visa within 28 calendar days
- Life-or-Death emergencies if you need to travel internationally in 3 business days because your immediate family member outside of the United States
To schedule an in-person appointment, you must call 1-877-487-2778.
Renewing Your Passport with a Private Expediting Company
If waiting for the post office is not an option and you can’t or prefer not to go to the nearest regional passport agency, you might want to try a passport expediting company.
Private expediting companies such as RushMyPassport can hand-carry your application documents to the Department of State for processing, cutting down on the time it takes to receive your passport, in as little as 7 business days.
Expedited Passport Services with RushMyPassport
If you need a passport quickly, but don’t have the time or patience to go to a passport agency or post-office, RushMyPassport can help.
With services ranging from new passports, passport renewals, child passports, or replacing a lost or stolen passport, our team of registered couriers and passport advisors will help get your passport fast!
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