U.S. Passport Changes Are Coming. Here’s What You Need To Know.

Listen up travelers!

Don’t let the upcoming changes to your passport catch you off guard. More than 18 million passports have been issued since 2007 as the result of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and they are about to expire. Not only are passports changing but also the ID laws in Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, and Montana. Federal agencies may not accept IDs issued from these states as official. What is usually an easy process to renew or acquire a passport, the State Department has a huge backlog. Here’s what you need to know.

Renew Your Passport Now

Those 18 million people that acquired their passports in 2007 are up for renewal. The renewal process already takes about six weeks, and many destinations require foreign passports to be valid for months after your trip. If you’re planning a summer trip, you don’t really have as much time as you think. Get a jump on your renewal now!

New ID Laws

January 22nd, 2018 the REAL ID Act, will be enforced and all state-level identification will have a security feature like machine-readable data chip added. While Georgia isn’t a state that will be affected by the REAL ID Act, if you have family members in Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, and Montana, you may want to keep them abreast of what’s going on. Frequent travelers worried that their state won’t comply in time may go ahead and renew or acquire a passport instead. Find out if your state has complied or been given an extension here.

New Security Features

Welcome to the future. Technology is leading the way and like your license, passports will now include a data chip that can provide all of your information when scanned into a computer. The US is playing catch up with many other countries as they have this feature, which decreases fraud.  Your passport will also be a bit lighter as it will have 28 pages instead of 52.

Whether you’re going on a quick get away to the Dominican Republic or traveling to the Amalfi Coast, it’s best to get a head start on your passport renewal. If you’re new the the passport game don’t wait. You can apply online, in person or at an eligible local agency like the post office. There’s nothing worse than having to delay or cancel travel plans because you’re not prepared. What are your summer travel plans?

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