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State Department Reducing Passport Services To People With 'Life or Death' Emergencies
The federal government is cutting back on issuing passports to travelers without a “qualified life-or-death emergency”.
The recent changes announced by the State Department went into effect on March 20 after the agency issued a Level 4 travel advisory urging Americans not to travel abroad due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Citizens who qualify for a passport must have a family emergency that requires them to travel outside the country within 72 hours. Qualified emergencies include serious illnesses or deaths of immediate family members such as a parent, child, spouse or sibling, aunt or uncle, the advisory explains.
Travelers will have to prove the emergency with items such as a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional.
“Due to public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many passport application acceptance facilities, which include libraries, clerks of court, and post offices are not accepting U.S. passport applications at this time,” a statement on the department’s website reads. “As of March 25, 2020, post offices [that] are still accepting applications are requiring customers to make an online appointment to apply in person for a U.S. passport. If you need to apply in person for your U.S. passport, please contact the facility directly to confirm the status of its operations.”
The department did not disclose when regular passport services would resume but added, “we will update this notice as the status changes.”