Grace Cary/GETTY IMAGES
The State Department will no longer honor expired United States passports next month, ending a pandemic-era practice implemented due to delays in processing.
Starting July 1, travelers will no longer "be permitted to use your expired U.S. passport to return to the United States," the State Department wrote on its website. Previously, U.S. citizens who were abroad were allowed to enter the country if their passport had expired on or after Jan. 1, 2020.
"If your passport has expired, please contact your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for a U.S. passport," the State Department added.
The rule was initially implemented to help travelers navigate delays in passport processing due to consulates and embassies being forced to cut back staffing. That led to an "unprecedented" backlog of passport service appointments.
In the U.S. alone, processing times topped up to 18 weeks and the State Department even removed the option to book last-minute appointments online for a time. Currently, passports are taking eight to 11 weeks to process, or five to seven weeks if travelers pay the expedited fee, according to the State Department.
Passport renewals have also gotten more expensive after the price increased by $20 last year. Now, it costs $130 to renew an adult passport, an extra $60 for expedited service, and an extra $18.32 for one to two day delivery.
While currently the most convenient way to renew a passport is by mail, President Joe Biden signed an executive order last year requiring the government to design a new digital system. Most passports expire after 10 years, but many countries require visitors to have up to six months of validity on their passports before traveling.
Travelers who do renew their passports now have the option to select an "X" as their gender on their application, indicating an "unspecified or another gender identity."
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.