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US to allow Americans with expired passports to return home

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The United States says it will allow Americans with expired passports to return home as travel restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic begin to lift.

The State Department announced Monday that that citizens currently overseas whose passports expired on or after Jan. 1, 2020, may be able to use their passports for “direct return travel” to the U.S. until Dec. 31, 2021.

The department said it’s making the move to “alleviate travel difficulties and unprecedented appointment backlogs created by the global COVID-19 pandemic.”

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers will accept for admission certain expired U.S. passports, thereby assisting U.S. citizens who have been affected by appointment backlogs at embassies and consulates overseas caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.

The State Department faced a massive backlog last year after a three-month pause in passport applications sparked by travel advisories and closures.

The agency said at the time that applications couldn’t be processed remotely due to the sensitive nature of the process.

Eligible citizens have to be seeking to return to the U.S. and be flying directly to the U.S. or have only a short-term connecting flight through another nation on the return, according to criteria on the State Department’s website.

Recently expired passports cannot be used to travel to an international destination or foreign country for “any length of stay longer than an airport connection en route to the United States or to a United States territory.”

The department said it still recommends that U.S. citizens reconsider traveling abroad and postpone trips when possible. It further noted that those wishing to return home have to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their flight’s departure.

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus pandemic coronavirus restrictions coronavirus travel restrictions Department of Homeland Security State Department United States passport

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