Around the world, people are preparing to ring in 2016. Champagne corks are popping as celebrants count down the seconds to the new year. At PassportInfo.com, we’re doing a countdown of our own – we’re counting down our top 5 US Passport news stories of 2015.
Follow along with us as we go through our top stories of the year, starting with…
#5: The Bride Who Missed Her Honeymoon Because of a Damaged Passport
In October, newlywed Carly Baker was not allowed to board her flight to Europe for her honeymoon because her passport was deemed “too damaged” to be valid by an airline representative. As it turns out, her passport was merely showing signs of wear, and wasn’t badly damaged enough to be considered mutilated by the State Department. She was able to do an expedited renewal of her passport and leave for her honeymoon with a few days’ delay.
The moral of this story is that it’s wise to do an early passport renewal if your passport is starting to look worn out. Even if your passport is still considered valid by the US State Department, you might run into problems with airlines or immigration authorities in other countries.
#4: The Jerusalem Passport Case
The US Supreme Court ruled on only one case this year that pertained to US Passports. In June, they announced their verdict on the “Jerusalem Passport Case“. The case involved a young boy born to US citizen parents in Jerusalem. His parents wanted his place of birth to be listed as “Israel” on his passport, but under State Department policy, “Jerusalem” was listed, as Jerusalem is considered by the United Nations not to belong to any one nation. His parents brought suit against the US State Department, but the Supreme Court upheld the policy of having passports state “Jerusalem” for any US citizen born in that city.
#3: Residents of 4 States May Need Passports for Domestic Flights
The REAL ID act is not new – it was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2005 – but in September, a news story broke about the problems it may cause for residents of 4 US states. The states of Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New York have not yet brought their driver’s licenses into compliance with the requirements of the REAL ID act, so when the act goes into full effect in 2016, residents of those states may need to carry their passports to board a domestic flight. In addition to passport books, other forms of REAL ID-compliant identification include passport cards, enhanced driver’s licenses, US military IDs, and Trusted Traveler program cards.
#2: Passports May Now Be Denied or Revoked for Unpaid Taxes
In December, a transportation bill was signed into law that included a surprising addendum: the State Department is now empowered to deny new passports or revoke valid passports for any US citizen who owes $50,000 or more in unpaid federal taxes and penalties. It’s estimated that this will impact 1% of all passport applicants, and that it will help the US government recover $5 billion or more in unpaid taxes every year.
And now, our top passport story of the year…
#1: Additional Passport Pages Service Has Been Discontinued
Early in 2015, rumors began to circulate that the State Department was planning to phase out the service of adding extra blank pages to valid US Passports. On November 19, they made it official, and announced that additional passport pages service would be eliminated on December 31, 2015. If you are low on passport pages and haven’t applied for additional passport pages service yet, we’re afraid you’re too late. From now on, travelers who need extra blank pages will need to apply for a passport renewal. We recommend that frequent travelers request a large 52-page book when applying for a passport; it doesn’t cost any more to get the large book instead of a standard 28-page book.
It’s been a very exciting year for passports, and we thank you for visiting PassportInfo.com this year! We look forward to continuing to provide you with the most up-to-date and accurate information about US Passports in 2016 and beyond.