On May 24, 2021, the US State Department announced that US citizens overseas with U.S. passports which expired on or after January 1, 2020, may be able to use these expired passports to return directly to the United States until December 31, 2021. According to the US State Department, US citizens qualify for this exception if all of the following are true:
- The traveler is a U.S. citizen.
- The traveler is currently abroad seeking direct return to the United States.
- The traveler is flying directly to the United States, a United States territory, or has only short-term connecting flights through a foreign country on a direct return to the United States or to a United States Territory.
- The traveler’s expired passport was originally valid for 10 years. Or, if the traveler were 15 years of age or younger when the passport was issued, the traveler’s expired passport was valid for 5 years.
- The expired passport is undamaged, unaltered, and in the traveler’s possession.
Importantly, according to the US State Department, US citizens do not qualify for this exception if:
- The traveler wishes to depart from the United States to an international destination.
- The traveler is currently abroad seeking to travel to a foreign country for any length of stay longer than an airport connection en route to the United States or to a United States territory.
- The expired passport was limited in validity.
- The expired passport is a special issuance passport (such as a diplomatic, official, service, or no-fee regular passport).
- The expired passport is damaged, altered, or not in the traveler’s possession.
Finally, travelers are advised that the official processing time for passport processing for US citizens inside the United States is 10 to 12 weeks for routine service and 4 to 6 weeks for expedited service.
All other passport rules and regulations remain in effect, and the Department of Homeland Security maintains discretion to reject any bearer in accordance with federal regulations.