How U.S. Passports Will Change in the New Year

Passport
Passport | © Nikki Vargas/Culture Trip
Nikki Vargas

Travel Editor

There have been many rumblings about the coming changes to the American passport in 2018. Some changes are promising (hello, online renewal!), while others—such as the Real ID act—prove more puzzling. If you’re a U.S. passport holder and looking quizzically at that little blue book, wondering how it will fare in the New Year, then read on.

According to Condé Nast Traveler, U.S. passport holders can expect online renewals to be available starting mid-2018. “We’ve got to be future-focused,” said Carl Siegmund, a community relations officer for passport services at the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, during a digital government symposium in Washington, D.C. “We’re trying to move from paper to digital.” Online renewal is a big win for travelers, who can now avoid the rushed mail-in applications.

In the same vein of pushing the passport renewal process into the 21st century, the State Department plans to implement text message alerts and updates for pending passport applications and renewals. Previously, people had to navigate the (often complicated) State Department website to check on the status of a passport application. However, all that will change in the new year, as messages will be sent direct to your cellphone to keep you up-to-date.

U.S. passport

For the less than anticipated changes to the U.S. passport, domestic travelers may now require a passport to get through airport security. According to Matador Network, an estimated 64% of Americans do not have a passport, which makes the implementation of this new rule a big hassle. The change is part of the Real ID Act, which was passed back in 2005 (so, no, we cannot blame Donald Trump for this one) in an effort to stem the flow of fake IDs, following the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.

“The final phase of Real ID Act implementation starts January 22, 2018,” writes Condé Nast Traveler. “That’s when air travelers with a driver’s license or state ID card that doesn’t comply—unless that state got an extension—must present another form of identification acceptable to the TSA in order to fly domestically.”

Because of the looming deadline of the Real ID Act, it is expected that a rush of passport applications will hit the State Department come January. While typical application processing times can take anywhere from four to six weeks, the State Department is asking people to expect wait times of closer to six weeks in the new year. For those with an upcoming trip and no time to wait, you can beat the system with services like Fastport Passport, which allows you to get a passport within 24 hours.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article