The United States Department of State, the agency charged with issuing passports, is currently anticipating a surge in demand through the end of calendar year 2016. The estimated total of new and renewed passports is projected at 17 million, an increase of roughly 1.5 million.
The cause of this surge is two-fold. First, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (“WHTI”) went in to full effect in 2007, requiring Americans travelling via air to present valid passports when returning from countries such as Mexico and those in the Caribbean. All of the 10-year passports issued in 2006 and 2007 are set to expire in 2016-2017. The State Department was overwhelmed when WHTI went into effect leaving many travelers stranded. By issuing this advisory, it is hoping to avoid the same problems this time around. Second, the Real ID Act, passed in 2008 and extensively implemented as of February 2016, limits the use of non-compliant state issued drivers licenses for air travel. Many people are rushing to process new passports and renew imminently expiring passports for this reason as well.
In consequence, we encourage anyone with a passport issued in 2006 and 2007 to apply for a renewal as soon as possible. For more information about passport issuance, and to learn how to apply for a passport and see real time processing times, please visit the U.S. Passports and International Travel Page on the Department of State’s website located here.
Should you have any questions or concerns about the validity of your passport, or how to acquire a passport please contact our office.