The U.S. State Department just issued a statement titled “Return Travel on Recently Expired U.S. Passports.” They said they’re doing this to alleviate travel difficulties and unprecedented appointment backlogs created by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“U.S. citizens currently overseas whose passports expired on or after January 1, 2020, may be able to use their expired U.S. passport for direct return travel to the United States until December 31, 2021. Certain criteria apply, and we encourage U.S. citizens to confirm their eligibility for traveling on an expired passport at COVID-19 Traveler Information prior to finalizing travel arrangements.”

Keep in mind, “Recently expired passports cannot be used to travel from the United States to an international destination or to travel to a foreign country for any length of stay longer than an airport connection en route to the United States or to a United States territory.”

Also, the State Department wants you to know that they continue to “strongly recommend U.S. citizens reconsider travel abroad and postpone their trips if possible. We also remind U.S. 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. For those wishing to renew their passport upon their return to the United States, current processing times can be found on the U.S. Passports page.”

I’m sure it’s a huge sigh of relief for many American passport holders since getting a passport renewed overseas was next to impossible during COVID-19. However, it’s the airlines’ job to make sure your passport is valid before boarding and I can bet there’s going to be a lot of denied boardings. I would definitely print this page and bring it to the airport. Also, have the URL handy so the agent (or better yet, ask for a supervisor) can type it in since they may want to verify it for themselves.

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