As restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic begin to ease, many US citizens are ready to resume travel for business and pleasure.

Those who have applied for new or renewed US passports, or Global Entry membership, will be impacted by closures and backlogs related to pandemic shutdowns. Here is the latest news:

Passports
With US passport offices closed since 19 March due to the pandemic, a backlog of 1.7 million passports needing to be processed has accumulated.

In Phase One of its reopening plan, the US Department of State reopened 15 of its passport processing centres on 15 June.

Employees are tackling the backlog of applications; however, with social distancing in place, there will be only partial staff at each site.

Officials expect to clear up the backlog of existing applications in about eight weeks.

After that, they will work on new applications, but with projected delays of two to three months or more.

Applications will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Passports for “life or death” situations can still be obtained through a special process, but expedited services for passports are still unavailable.

Global Entry
Trusted Traveller enrolment centres remain closed until at least 6 July.

Until then, travellers applying for Global Entry may apply for conditional approval via the Trusted Traveller Programme website and then complete the process at a participating airport upon return from an international trip.

Conditional approval can take from 15 days to five months.

To renew Global Entry membership, travellers will be granted an 18-month extension instead of the usual six months.

New York residents are still ineligible to apply for or renew Global Entry due to the freeze imposed by the current federal administration.

Compiled by Kristin Stanberry

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