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What you need to know about the passport process during the coronavirus pandemic

Houston – Summer is here, and some people are resuming travel plans they made before the pandemic. Airlines are flying and hotels are open, but there is one hitch if you plan to travel internationally. Passport offices are still not fully open.

‘Limited Operations’ at passport offices impacts travel

Zantia Martin is the owner of Z’s Travel Destinations and an agent with Chatman Destinations. She has clients booked for a girlfriend’s getaway to Montego Bay, Jamaica, in July. The trip has been planned for months, well before the coronavirus pandemic. But if passports for two of the ladies don’t arrive soon, the getaway may have to be postponed.

The women submitted their passport application on March 11. The U.S. State Department shifted to “limited operations” on March 19, warning applicants that anyone who applied for a new passport or renewal before that date would experience “significant delays of several months.”

There is no way to check the status of pending passport applications. The agency posted that they will not be updating its “application status” database until its offices resume normal business.

Who can get a passport now?

The U.S. Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs released a statement May 1 that passport requests will only be granted to citizens in what they consider “life or death emergencies.” These are “serious illnesses, injuries or deaths in your immediate family that require you to travel outside the United States within three days.

What to do

For now, the agency is requesting people wait to apply for new passports or renewals until offices resume regular operations. As for Zantia’s clients, they do have trip insurance in the event they have to postpone their trip.