No New Passport Applications Accepted Except for Emergency Situations Due to 2019 Novel Coronavirus

If you need to apply for a passport, you are out of luck until further notice, as new applications for passports are no longer being accepted for the foreseeable future by the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State of the United States, according to an update pertaining to passport services which was issued earlier today, Friday, April 3, 2020 — with emergency situations as the only exception to this policy.

No New Passport Applications Accepted Except for Emergency Situations Due to 2019 Novel Coronavirus

The update is to an advisory pertaining to passport services, which was originally issued by the aforementioned agency on Thursday, March 19, 2020 in response to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic in which routine passport services were to have taken longer than six to eight weeks to process; and expedited passport services were suspended effective as of Friday, March 20, 2020 with no timeline at this time as to when expedited passport services will return.

passport stamps

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

The policy does not include renewals for passports, which are still being accepted by postal mail — but you are warned that the processing of the renewal of your passport will encounter significant delays; and to not go to an acceptance facility to get your passport renewed.

The following text is repeated verbatim from the official advisory — although another version of this updated advisory is here as well.

Because of public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, effective March 20, 2020, we are only able to offer in-person service at passport agencies or centers for customers with a qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours. Learn more below to see if you qualify for a life-or-death emergency appointment.

While you can still apply in person for a U.S. passport at some acceptance facilities and renew through the mail, you should expect significant delays receiving your passport and your citizenship evidence documents. Please consider waiting to apply until we resume normal operations. We suspended expedited service on March 19 and are not offering this service to any applicants.

What If I Applied Before March 20?

If you applied and requested expedited service on or before March 19, 2020, we made every effort to meet our commitment of 2-3 weeks door-to-door service. However, due to limited staff, we are still working on a small portion of incomplete expedited applications submitted on or before March 19. You may experience additional delays.

If you applied and requested routine service on or before March 19, 2020, you should expect significant delays receiving your passport and your citizenship evidence documents.

If you received a letter from us requesting additional documents or information to process your passport application, you may mail your response to the address in the letter. We are able to receive mail at this time. Expect significant processing delays.

What Qualifies as a Life-or-Death Emergency?

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:

  • 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) specific to the emergency

To make an appointment at a passport agency or center for a life-or-death emergency, you must call our National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 (1-888-874-7793 TDD/TTY) on Monday- Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern Time, except federal holidays or on Saturdays, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm Eastern Time. Call 202-647-4000 outside of these hours to make an appointment.

Our passport agencies in AtlantaConnecticutNew York, and San Juan are closed to the public until further notice.

Can I Apply in Person Now?

Many passport application acceptance facilities, which include libraries, clerks of court, and post offices, are not accepting U.S. passport applications at this time. As of March 25, 2020, post offices which are still accepting applications are requiring customers to make an online appointment to apply in person for a U.S. passport. If you need to apply in person for your U.S. passport, please contact the facility directly to confirm the status of its operations.

Can I Renew Now?

You may also be eligible to renew your U.S. passport by mail. If you are eligible to renew, you can complete the process by yourself and should not go to an acceptance facility. Follow the instructions on Form DS-82 and send your application and supporting documents to one of the addresses marked for routine service. Do not send the application to the expedited service address and do not include the $60 expedite fee. Expect significant processing delays.

The status of our operations may change quickly. We will update this notice as the status changes. 

Summary

At the time this article was written, at least 50,489 people — or slightly greater than 5.17 percent — have died of the minimum of 976,249 confirmed cases in 206 countries and territories worldwide, according to this situation dashboard from the World Health Organization pertaining to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

A Level 4 advisory to restrict travel — which is the highest level that warns Do Not Travel — was initially issued on Thursday, March 19, 2020 by the Department of State of the United States, which introduced an improved travel advisory system of sharing information on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 for travelers who are citizens of the United States. This system is designed to provide clear, timely, and reliable safety and security information worldwide.

Even if you were to travel, numerous countries have either strengthened restrictions for entry to foreigners and visitors — or the borders are simply closed off altogether — which has led to airlines substantially diminishing their route networks by reducing or eliminating flight schedules.

Either way, I hope your passport does not expire anytime soon — and if it did, I wonder if the same restrictions will be in place pertaining to obtaining a new passport if a period of time elapses since an old passport expired once the system returns to some semblance of normalcy sometime in the future.

This article is the latest in a series pertaining to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus — which is also known as COVID-19 or 2019-nCoV or SARS-CoV-2 — pandemic in an effort to get the facts out with information derived from reliable sources…

…as well as attempt to maintain a reasoned and sensible ongoing discussion towards how to resolve this pandemic.

Other articles at The Gate which pertain to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus include:

All photographs ©2015 and ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

One thought on “No New Passport Applications Accepted Except for Emergency Situations Due to 2019 Novel Coronavirus”

  1. Wes says:

    Good article. Thanks for this.

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