The State Department is estimating from now through 2018 there is going to be a massive backlog of passport applications. Plus, the design of U.S. passports is getting an overhaul.
Renew your passport now
In 2016, there were over 14 million passport renewal requests, the State Department is estimating a minimum of 20 million requests into 2018. There’s never been a better time to expedite your passport renewal.
Many people aren’t aware the expiration date on their passport is not the expiration date. Many countries will deny you entry if there are less than six months left until expiration on your passport.
You will have to comply with the Real I.D. Act
The REAL ID Act, passed in 2005 and coming into effect January of 2018, established a set of federal security standards for state driver’s licenses that require specific information and machine-readable technology. Travelers using IDs issued by certain states could be turned away at the gate. According to the Department of Homeland Security, after 2020, absolutely all travelers on U.S. domestic flights must comply with the REAL ID Act. Having a passport will be worth it.
Additional Rules Have Been Added
As of November 2016 glasses are no longer allowed in passport photos. The State Department sent away thousands of applications due to poor passport photos, so make sure that you adhere to rules and guidelines for passport photos.
Tip: Glasses are still allowed for medical conditions. Simply send along a doctor’s note with your application.
Passports got an all-over upgrade
In the summer of 2016, passports began to be manufactured with chips installed. The chip on the info page is machine readable and contains a biometric key for the traveler it is assigned to. Passports also have fewer pages and adding additional pages is no longer an option. Even the covers were updated. The covers are tougher, resist wear better, and water resistant.
New security features
U.S. passports now have the data chip that allows for scanning. The State Department states more technological advancements are in the works along with forensic devices.
Passport power is measured by the number of countries an individual can visit without needing a travel visa for entry. For 2017, the top spot is being shared by two countries.
Germany and Singapore are welding the most power with their passports this year with their countries’ respective passports allowing bearers to visit a whopping 159 countries visa-free.
Sweden comes in a solid second place with their passport allowing entry into 158 countries.
The United States is now in third place with a U.S. passport unlocking entry into 157 countries visa-free.
An interesting statistic recently showed only 38% of U.S. citizens own a valid passport. Between 2018 and 2020 that number is expected to grow as more individuals choose a passport to meet requirements for state to state travel to be in compliance with the REAL I.D. Act.
If you need to renew your current passport or want to apply for your very first one, we’re here to help you through the process. We can expedite your passportand get it in your hands fast than through standard channels. Every member of the family will need a passport to travel internationally, however the Real I.D. act will not require minors to have a driver’s license or passport to fly domestically.
Americans that are more than $50,000 in debt to the IRS for overdue taxes could find themselves in a real pickle if they need to travel when the Real ID Act is fully implemented in 2020.
In 2015, Congress introduced a bill for highway funding that includes a provision to revoke the passport of any citizen of the United States who owes more than $50,000 in delinquent tax debt. The criteria to meet the level of delinquent tax debt includes the IRS filing a levy or lien against the overdue taxes and no repayment plan has been established. Now, it’s the law, the IRS can revoke passports.
Lawmakers feel this measure will be an incentive for individuals who owe back taxes to become current with their tax debt and they have until October 2020 to get their tax bills in order.
Another group this provision is expected to affect are Americans who live abroad who may have domestic tax bills in arrears. This will affect their passport status as well.
If you have any questions about how to get your passport or how to renew, talk to us. Call us at 713-874-1420 during business hours or message us on Facebook.
As of Friday, several states had issued-i.d.’s that were considered not in compliance with the Real I.D. Act. This would make having a passport a necessity for flying out of one of those states to another state.
On Monday, January 11th, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that a new timeline was being implemented to give the states adequate time to comply with the more secure measures. The new deadline is January 2018.
The two-year delay was necessary because less than half of the states in the US have met all the Real ID requirements. In the statement, Johnson said that only 23 states were “fully compliant” at this time. Five states are completely non-compliant and were not given any extensions beyond Jan. 1 of this year. They are Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico and Washington. 22 states had not fully met the requirements of the Act, but given extensions of various lengths because they were working towards implementation.
If you want to see the timeline for your state’s compliance to the Real I.D. act, Homeland Security has set up a website.
It’s not a bad idea to have a passport ready to go. If you’ve never applied for a passport, or you need to renew your passport, we can help you. Visit our Passport page or call our office at 713-874-1420.
TexasTower.net is registered, but not affiliated, with the US Government for obtaining travel documents. Our service charges an additional fee to expedite your passport in 24 hours to 12 days. If you do not wish to use our services, you can obtain your passport directly from the U.S. Department of State in 4-7 weeks.