There are several developments concerning acceptable documents for travel. This post will cover news for passports and drivers license requirements for boarding commercial flights.
The State Department has suspended issuing new passports from applications received on or after March 20, 2020. There is one exception – life or death emergencies. Here is a link to the State Department website defining “life or death emergency”. This policy became effective on March 27, 2020.
The State Department has made this decision in an effort for Americans to avoid international travel at this time due to the impact of coronvirus. The State Department said:
“It will only offer passports to customers with a qualified emergency.”
Examples of emergencies include travel due to serious illnesses, injuries or deaths in the immediate family, it said. Applicants must require travel outside the US within three days, and will have to submit “proof of the life-or-death emergency such as a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional.”
*Updated March 27, 2020*
The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel at this time due to the global impact of COVID-19. Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions. Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice. You can find additional guidance about the Department’s recommendations in response to COVID-19 here.
Change in Passport Services Operations
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.
Life-or-death emergencies are serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family (e.g. parent, child, spouse, sibling, aunt, uncle, etc) that require you to travel outside the United States within 72 hours (3 days). You must provide:
- A passport application with supporting documents
- Proof of the life-or-death emergency such as a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional. Documents must be translated or in English.
- Proof of international travel (e.g. reservation, ticket, itinerary)
Those citizens needing to renew their passports may proceed as usual. Be advised, there will be no option for expedited service which normally costs an additional $60.00. Passport processing usually takes six to eight weeks however, there may be a delay for renewal submissions received after March 20, 2020.
TSA Allowing Expired Driver’s Licenses
If your driver’s license expired on or after March 1, 2020, the TSA will allow you to fly on domestic flights. This applies if your state’s DMV was unable to renew your driver’s license. The TSA website states:
If your driver’s license or state-issued ID expired on or after March 1, 2020, and you are unable to renew at your state driver’s license agency, you may still use it as acceptable identification at the checkpoint. TSA will accept expired driver’s licenses or state-issued ID a year after expiration or 60 days after the duration of the emergency, whichever is longer.
The TSA is also allowing passengers to carry 12 ounces of liquid sanitizer aboard commercial flights.
Delaying The REAL ID Act
I wrote a post last week about the delay in implementing the REAL ID Act, you can read it here. If you do not have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license issued by your state DMV, you will still be able to board commercial airline flights after September 30, 2020. Most states offer REAL-ID compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards. There may be an additional charge for upgrading to a REAL ID-compliant license or ID card. Some states have not obtained compliance approval for their driver’s licenses and ID cards.
At this time, there is no new deadline announced for the implementation of the REAL ID act.