US passports on map
US passports on mapiStock

The US State Department has announced that citizens with expired passports will be able to travel home to the US without renewing them.

In a statement, the Department said: "The welfare and safety of US citizens abroad is the highest priority of the Department of State."

"To alleviate travel difficulties and unprecedented appointment backlogs created by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security are working together to facilitate US citizens’ return to the United States.

"US citizens currently overseas whose passports expired on or after January 1, 2020, may be able to use their expired US passport for direct return travel to the United States until December 31, 2021."

The statement added that "certain criteria apply" and encouraged US citizens to confirm eligibility prior to finalizing travel arrangements.

"US Customs and Border Protection (DHS CBP) officers will accept for admission certain expired US passports, thereby assisting US citizens who have been affected by appointment backlogs at embassies and consulates overseas caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," the statement explained.

However, it emphasized, "recently expired passports cannot be used to travel from the United States to an international destination or 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 State Department continues to strongly recommend US citizens reconsider travel abroad and postpone their trips if possible. We also remind US citizens who wish to return to the United States that proof of a negative COVID-19 test result, taken within 72 hours of their flight’s departure, is required for air travel to the United States."

Processing times for those wishing to renew their passport upon their return to the United States can be found on the State Department's website, the statement concluded.