Overseas Americans may use their expired passports to travel back to US

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The US State Department announced on Monday, May 24, 2021 that Americans overseas with passports that expired on or after January 1, 2020 can use them to travel to the US directly through December 31, 2021. Photo: Shutterstock

The US State Department announced Monday (May 24) that US citizens can travel back to the United States using their recently expired passports under certain conditions through December 31, 2021.

The passport must have expired on or after January 1, 2020. That is around the time when many US consulates abroad closed to the public as the COVID-19 pandemic got underway, making it difficult to access consular services.

You however cannot travel out of the United States on an expired passport.

According to details posted on the State Department website,

You qualify for this exception if all the following are true:

  • You are a U.S. citizen.
  • You are currently abroad seeking direct return to the United States.
  • You are flying directly to the United States, a United States territory, or have only short-term transit (“connecting flights”) through a foreign country on your direct return to the United States or to a United States Territory.
  • Your expired passport was originally valid for 10 years. Or, if you were 15 years of age or younger when the passport was issued, your expired passport was valid for 5 years.
  • Your expired passport is undamaged.
  • Your expired passport is unaltered.
  • Your expired passport is in your possession.

You do not qualify for this exception if:

  • You wish to depart from the United States to an international destination.
  • You are currently abroad seeking to travel to a foreign country for any length of stay longer than an airport connection en route to the United States or to a United States territory.
  • Your expired passport was limited in validity.
  • Your expired passport is a special issuance passport (such as a diplomatic, official, service, or no-fee regular passport).
  • Your expired passport is damaged.
  • Your expired passport is altered.
  • Your expired passport is not in your possession.

Negative coronavirus test

The State Department also said 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 that they recovered from the virus within the past three months.

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