Check your passport right now to see the expiration date. Passports are good for ten years and then they have to be renewed. Do you know your expiration date?
If your passport expires sometime in 2018, you should go ahead and renew it sooner rather than later. Why?
For one thing, it is common for countries to stipulate that a passport must be valid for six months after your travel date. Say you are traveling in January and your passport expires in March, so you’re not worried. But you should be! You could be detained at the airport on your way home, especially in Asia, since it should be valid through June.
For another thing, the U.S. Passport Center is anticipating a record number of application in 2018. Why?
A new law passed mandates that domestic fliers must have a valid passport if they are residents of certain states or they will not clear security. As of January 22, 2018, a valid driver’s license is no longer acceptable identification because these states do not meet minimum requirements issued by the federal government. Also, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires passports for travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. It so happens that 2018 is the ten-year anniversary of its inception. Since passports are valid for ten years, this means many of the WHTI folks will be renewing their passports.
FYI: It is expected that nearly thirty million passport applications will be submitted in 2018.
What all this means to you is there will most likely be a backlog of applications and a slower than usual processing time. Also, March is traditionally the worst month to submit a passport application because that is when the highest number of applications are received.
FYI: You can only renew a passport by mail. You have to mail in the proper form (see below), your passport, a color photo, and the fee.