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Surge in US passport applications prompts ‘passport fairs’ across country

/ 11:44 PM May 25, 2017
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US passport applications are expected to surge through to 2018. Image: yenwen/Istock.com via AFP Relaxnews

To respond to the record surge in passport applications which is expected to last through to 2018, the State Department of the United States is holding a series of special Passport Acceptance Fairs across the country that will expedite the process for first-time applicants.

“We are expecting an increase in passport applications through 2018. Submit your passport application well ahead of your planned travel dates in order to avoid possible delays,” reads a statement on the U.S. State Department website.

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The reason for the surge can be traced back to 2007, following the implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which required that all travelers from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean present a valid passport when entering the U.S.

That year, the department experienced an unprecedented surge in passport applications, issuing 18 million passports.

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But 10 years later, those passports are approaching expiry and up for renewal. In 2015, the department issued more than 15.5 million passports alone, and demand is expected to increase through to 2018.

Passport holders are being encouraged to renew their passport well ahead of any international travel, as many countries require that passports be valid for between three and six months beyond the dates of the trip.

Eligible Americans can renew by mail.

Along with designated U.S. post offices, clerks of court and public libraries, first-time applicants can apply at special fairs that are being held throughout the country.

Events will be added to the calendar every Monday and so far include several fairs between now and June. JB

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