As sports travel increases, more tournaments are being scheduled internationally. But changes are ahead for U.S. passport processes, according to an article in USA TODAY. Here’s what you need to know, and what you need to pass along to your registrants:
Gridlock is coming: The State Department says there’s about to be a massive backlog of passport applications. That means a strong potential for slowdowns in processing times. Those who will need passports in the foreseeable future need to make their applications now.
The reason, says the article, is simply bad timing: “A decade ago, an important piece of travel legislation made American passports much more in-demand. The State Department saw an ‘unprecedented surge’ in applications when a 2007 law enacted by the 9/11 Commission established passports as necessary for all travel to and from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Millions of travelers acquired 10-year passports that year as a result, and now they're all about to expire. It's safe to assume many of those passport holders will need to renew, which means that passport applications will jump significantly once again.”
In general, passport renewal takes about six weeks, and many destinations require foreign passports to be valid for months after your trip. Passport renewal already takes about six weeks, and many destinations require foreign passports to be valid for months after your trip. Factor in unknown delays, and you might have a lot less time to renew than you thought.
You Know Kids’ Passports Are Only Good for Five Years, Right? Children’s passports, in addition to being good for a shorter duration, are subject to more paperwork, including parental consent forms and proof of a parent-child relationship. Encourage attendees to make sure their children’s travel documentation is up to date, and to check the website of the State Department for all information.
REAL ID Won’t Help: A newer federal law, the REAL ID Act, will soon enforce updates to all state-level identification in the form of security features like machine-readable data chips. Now people in some states that are lagging behind in the technology are realizing that their licenses might soon be invalid for air travel — even on domestic trips. That could mean a rise in passport applications as well.
Travelers using IDs issued by certain states — for example, Maine and Missouri — could be turned away at the gate starting as soon as January 2018 if their state doesn't adjust to the new standards in time for the State Department’s satisfaction. Some states are under review and have been given a deadline extension, but all licenses must comply with the standards by 2020. Frequent travelers worried that their state won't comply in time may go ahead and renew or acquire a passport instead. Find out if your state has complied or been given an extension by clicking here.
Passports Will Be Increasingly Fraud-Resistant: Like state IDs, passports will now include added technology to ensure security and decrease fraud. Catching up with many other countries, U.S. passport changes mean that new passports will include a data chip that can provide all your personal info upon scanning it onto a computer.
How to Renew Your Passport: You can apply for or renew a passport online through the State Department, or in person at an eligible local agency like the post office. Make sure you follow instructions carefully and meet all the requirements. Missing any of the steps could delay the process.