U.S. Stops Issuing Passports, Except For "Life-Or-Death" Emergencies

The United States has temporarily halted issuing new passports for American citizens unless it's for a qualified "life-or-death emergency" as part of the government's effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The State Department advised Americans to avoid all international travel due to the spread of COVID-19, unless they are experiencing an emergency and need to travel, in a statement published on March 27. Additionally, the department added that it would temporarily halt new passports, with the exceptions of those people who have a qualified "life-or-death" emergency.

"Due to public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, effective March 20, 2020, we are only able to offer service for customers with a qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours," the website states.

According to the State Department's website, people who need a passport must be able to provide:

  • A passport application with supporting documents.
  • Proof of the life-or-death emergency, such as a death certificate, a statement from a doctor or mortuary. Documents must be provided in English.
  • Proof of international travel, including a ticket, reservation or itinerary.

Passport applicants would also have to be traveling outside the U.S. within three days.

Any applications that were received on or before March 19, will still be processed.

If you don't plan on traveling anywhere in the foreseeable future but still want to renew your passports for future international travel, you can still proceed as usual, without using the expidited service option. Renewing passports generally takes the State Department anywhere from six to eight weeks, however, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the State Department says renewals submitted after March 20 may experience a delay in service. However, there is no further information on how long the delay might be.

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