Overseas Americans can travel back to US on expired passports – for now

Americans overseas will be allowed to travel back to the U.S. using a recently expired passport, the U.S. State Department announced Monday night, though travelers must meet certain conditions.  

U.S. citizens who are currently overseas and whose passports expired on or after Jan. 1, 2020, can use those passports for direct return travel to the U.S. until Dec. 31.

Customs and Border Protection officers will accept certain expired U.S. passports for those reentering the country. Travelers must meet certain criteria, including that they are flying directly to the U.S. (airport connections through foreign countries will be allowed), their passport must have been originally valid for 10 years (or five years if they were a child when it was issued). The expired passport must be undamaged, unaltered and in the traveler’s possession. 

The move is “to alleviate travel difficulties and unprecedented appointment backlogs created by the global COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the State Department announcement. 

Overseas Americans can’t travel with expired passports to other international destinations, and the passport relief won’t help Europe-bound vacationers in the United States. Many travelers hoping to visit Europe this summer have been stymied by passport backlogs. 

The State Department continues to advise against travel abroad and said last month that the pandemic continues to pose “unprecedented risks” to travelers: “In light of those risks, the Department of State strongly recommends U.S. citizens reconsider all travel abroad.”

All air passengers ages 2 and older must present a negative coronavirus test taken no more than three days before a flight to the U.S. or proof they recovered from the virus within the past three months. 

Contributing: Dawn Gilbertson

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