Do you have plans to travel abroad in 2016 or 2017? If so, check your passport. Many passports are expected to expire in 2016, and your best bet for getting your passport in time is to renew it now, according to a recent article in The New York Times.
State Department officials expect an increase in passport demand throughout the year, including a flood of renewals of 10-year passports issued in 2006 and 2007. In 2007, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) went into effect. The WHTI is the joint Department of State (DOS) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plan to require all travelers – both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals – to present a passport or other acceptable document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the United States.
The WHTI plan’s goal was to strengthen border security while efficiently managing entry into the United States for U.S. citizens and legitimate travelers. When the WHTI went into effect, millions scrambled to apply for their first passports, swelling backlogs and stranding many travelers. Now, the State Department hopes to convince Americans to renew early to avoid congestion in the system.
A second reason to renew your passport now is the requirement for at least six months’ validity on a United States passport that is now required by many countries. Imagine denial of entry at a foreign airport or border because your passport had less than six months to go. Instead, if you renew early, you will have less chance of trouble when it comes to your late summer or fall vacation abroad.
According to The New York Times article, State Department officials expect to issue more than 17 million new passports and renewals in 2016 – nearly 1.5 million more than last year. If you are a first-time passport applicant, you must submit your application in person at a designated post office, court or other agency for a fee of $135. Most Americans can renew passports by mail for a smaller fee of $110, and officials expect renewals to take about six weeks.
After you have applied for your first passport or a passport renewal, check out some of our upcoming tours and events for 2016 and 2017 to plan your next getaway abroad or contact us to plan your own custom vacation. To learn more, call Blue Horizon Travel today at 800-939-4334.