You May Enter the United States on an Expired Passport — If…

If you are overseas and your passport expired on or after Wednesday, January 1, 2020, you may be able to use your expired passport to return directly to the United States until Friday, December 31, 2021 due to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, which has caused a significant impact on the operations of the 27 passport agencies and passport centers in the United States over the past 16 months.

You May Enter the United States on an Expired Passport — If…

According to the latest update from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State of the United States, you qualify for this exception if all the following are true:

  • You are a citizen of the United States.
  • You are currently abroad seeking direct return to the United States.
  • You are flying directly to the United States, a territory of the United States, or have only short-term transit — or connecting flights — through a foreign country on your direct return to the United States or to a territory of the United States.
  • 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 five years.
    • Is undamaged.
    • Is unaltered.
    • Is in your possession.
passport stamps

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

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 territory of the United States.
  • Your expired passport:
    • Was limited in validity.
    • Is a special issuance passport — such as a diplomatic, official, service, or no-fee regular passport.
    • Is damaged.
    • Is altered.
    • Is not in your possession.
Passport

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

The Department of Homeland Security maintains discretion to reject any holder of a United States passport in accordance with 22 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 53.2(b)(7) and 8 CFR 235.1(b).

Summary

If you have an expired passport, you can only use it if you meet the aforementioned criteria.

Otherwise, keep in mind that up to four weeks may elapse from the day you apply for a passport until your application status is “In Process.” During these four weeks, your application is delivered to a mail facility, your payment is processed, and your application is scanned and sent to the designated passport agency or passport center. If your passport status update says “Not Available,” your application and supporting documents are safely on their way to the designated passport agency or passport center…

…although I know people who have waited significantly longer than four weeks…

All photographs ©2016 and ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

One thought on “You May Enter the United States on an Expired Passport — If…”

  1. Mark R. says:

    If you are a U.S. citizen you can enter the country with no passport. You will probably be delayed while CBP verifies your citizenship, but a citizen cannot be denied entry.

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