This month, the laptop ban once again dominates the travel news! In our May roundup of the most important travel stories, we’ll take an in-depth look at the ban on electronics in airplane cabins. (This is a hot topic – stay tuned for more updates from PassportInfo.com!)
We’ve also got an update on the status of the Miami Passport Agency, which flooded last month. Finally, if you are traveling to Europe, you’ll want to check out the latest news about entry procedures for Italy and France!
Will the Laptop Ban be Expanded?
This week, news broke that the United States is considering extending the ban on laptops in carry-on luggage. US officials have been in talks with European Union representatives in Brussels, discussing the potential terrorist threat of bombs hidden in laptops or other electronic devices. As of now, there are no immediate plans to expand the existing laptop ban, but talks will resume next week.
What is the current laptop ban?
In March, both the United States and the United Kingdom enacted a ban on electronic devices larger than a smartphone in the cabins of some flights. Travelers flying into the US or UK from selected airports in the Middle East are not allowed to bring their laptops, tablets, portable DVD players, large cameras, or other devices into the cabin of the airplane. Instead, all of these devices must be checked and stored in the aircraft’s baggage hold.
This ban remains in place, with no sign that it will be lifted soon.
Replacing one danger with another?
The current laptop ban was put into place due to intelligence information that indicated that terrorists are developing bombs that can be hidden inside a laptop. The highly classified information that Donald Trump shared with Russian officials recently included many sensitive details about this plot. The threat is being taken seriously enough that the Department of Homeland Security is considering extending the in-cabin ban on electronics. Proposals to enact a laptop ban on US-bound flights originating in Europe, or even on all international flights to the US, have been discussed.
Although placing laptops into the cargo hold would make it more difficult for terrorists to trigger a bomb, there are other dangers to be considered. The most serious threat is that of fire. Laptops contain lithium ion batteries, which can overheat and self-combust, especially if they are tightly packed or compressed. There have been several plane crashes caused by laptop battery fires, though none of them during the laptop ban.
Travelers also worry about the more mundane threats of theft and damage. Not only are laptops and other devices quite expensive, they often contain sensitive data.
We are monitoring the news closely and will bring you any updates about the laptop ban as they break.
Miami Passport Agency Remains Closed
Nearly a month after the April 23 flood, the Miami Passport Agency remains closed for repairs. The water damage to the passport office was more extensive than originally recognized. The State Department has not yet announced when the Miami Passport Agency is likely to reopen.
While the agency is closed, several temporary Passport Acceptance Facilities have opened in downtown Miami to help travelers apply for passports. However, none of the temporary facilities can actually process passports on site.
Until the agency reopens, travelers in Florida who need urgent passports can either travel to a different Passport Agency (such as the ones in Atlanta or New Orleans) or use a passport expediting company to submit their application.
France and Italy Tighten Entry Requirements
Italy Temporarily Increasing Border Control
Through May 30, all travelers entering Italy will be subject to passport checks at borders. This includes travelers entering by land and sea as well as those who arrive at airports. The increased security is a temporary measure. It has been put in place because Italy is hosting this year’s G7 summit on May 26-27.
If you’ll be entering Italy between now and the end of the month, allow yourself more time to go through the border, and make sure to have your passport handy!
France Requiring Business Travelers to Register
France now requires business travelers to register themselves with the Système d’Information sur les Prestations de Services Internationales at the French Ministry of Labor. This registration process is meant to keep foreigners from working illegally in France.
Business travelers who will only be conducting meetings, attending conferences, or being trained do not need to register. However, all other business travelers are required to register, even if they will only be in France for one day. This includes travelers who will speak or present at conferences and those who will conduct trainings in France.
This registration should be made online prior to travel.