COVID-19: US to allow stranded travellers with expired passports to return home

*The US State Department discloses the move will help to minimise travel difficulties and unprecedented appointment backlogs created by the COVID-19 pandemic, reminding travellers though it still discourages international travel

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In a strategic move to help in reducing travel difficulties and unprecedented appointment backlogs created by the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic, travellers who are stuck overseas and holding a recently expired United States passport are being rescued by the State Department.

ConsumerConnect gathered the agency Tuesday, May 25 announced that it is working with the Department of Homeland Security to facilitate their return home.

The move will help to lessen travel difficulties and unprecedented appointment backlogs created by the COVID-19 pandemic, said the State Department.

Report noted that any American citizen currently stranded overseas with a passport that expired on or after January 1, 2020, can use that passport anytime to travel back home through December 31, 2021.

Although there are certain criteria that apply, the government agencies ask that those travellers get in touch ahead of their trip home, so that their eligibility for travelling can be confirmed and the paperwork can be processed before finalising travel arrangements, agency report said.

The regulatory agencies, however, want travellers with expired passports to know that those documents cannot be used to travel from the US to an international destination for any length of stay longer than an airport connection en route to the US or to a US territory (e.g. American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands).

Accordingly, for those wishing to renew their passports upon their return to the US, current processing times can be found on the US Passports Web site.

In reconsidering travel abroad, it is noted though international travel is starting to trend upward as the pandemic trends downward domestically, the State Department continues to strongly recommend that Americans think twice about travelling abroad, especially to places where COVID-19 levels remain high.

The agency stated: “We also remind US citizens who wish to return to the United States that proof of a negative COVID-19 test result, taken within 72 hours of their flight’s departure, is required for air travel to the United States.”

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