The majority of Americans don’t have a passport, in fact, less than half of Americans have a valid passport. Passports are needed when traveling out of the country and for the most part overseas. Traveling to Mexico and Canada didn’t require a passport in the past, but that has changed. For these reasons, most Americans never felt the need to apply for a passport. But things are about to change and needing a passport may become an issue for more Americans soon.
Passports are not just for traveling over seas any more. In 2007 having a passport when traveling to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean became mandatory. Also, Americans who want to fly across the U.S. will now need passports because of the “Real ID” act that was recently enacted.
Because of the increased demand expected for passports, the passport renewal process is being restructures. Starting in mid-2018, passports will be renewable online. This should make the process much easier for millions of Americans.
Status of the individual’s application or renewal process will become much more available starting in 2018. Instead of having to seek status online or by phone, status updates will come via email or SMS to keep applicants up to date on applications.
One of the downsides to the new passport requirement is that the processing time will most likely increase in 2018. Typically, the passport process takes 4 to 6 weeks, but if you waited too long to renew, it could take closer to the 6 weeks.
Most things eventually cost more, and passports are no different. As of April 2, 2018, the passport execution fee will increase from $25 to $35. This increase only applies to U.S. passport applicants using the DS-11 form, such as first-time applicants over 16, children under 16, and applicants who re-apply after reporting their previous passport lost or stolen.
If you will be needing a passport, the sooner you apply, the better.