"In 2007 the U.S. started requiring passports (or an “enhanced driver’s license”) for travel to Mexico and Canada, and for cruise passengers, and issued a large lumber of passports with a 10-year validity (passports are only issued with a 10 year validity period)," George Hobica, founder and president of Airfarewatchdog.com, tells us. "Those passports are set to expire in 2016 and 2017, so there might be a flood or renewal requests all at once."
In fact, the U.S. State Department expects to have approximately 16 million passport renewals in 2016 and 20 million in 2017-- an unprecedented number.
Renewing your passport is always a bit of headache. Some countries require you to have one that is valid for six months before expiration, while others are a bit more relaxed. Then there comes the process of sending it in and waiting, or paying an arm and a leg for rushed processing. And unfortunately, this year is going to be the worst.
If you haven't had the chance to get ahead of the rush, you might want to wait a bit if you can, because March is the busiest month for passport renewals all year, according to data from the U.S. Department of State. Last year, 1.5 million Americans renewed during March, whereas renewals were at just 713,000 in November 2015.
In addition to the 10-year anniversary of the Western Hemisphere Initiative approaching, which helped to launch this passport renewal surge, the U.S. Department of State also recently announced the elimination of visa page inserts for U.S. passports beginning this year. Previously, U.S. passport holders had the option to pay for an additional 24-page visa inserts when valid passports lacked adequate space for entry or exit visa stamps. Now, however, applicants in need of additional pages in their passports will have to obtain a renewal.
This exceptional increase in renewals has spurred some businesses to help ease the process for travelers. David Alwadish, CEO and President of ItsEasy.com, just launched the first ever passport renewal app.
“This is truly an exciting time for ItsEasy," Alwadish tells Oyster.com. "I wanted to create an app that allowed U.S. passport holders to renew their passport with ease from their iPhone in a beneficial, secure, and easy way."
The app allows you to take passport photos, sign up for visa requirements, input emergency info, and set a passport renewal reminder nine months before you passport expires. Travelers in need of only photos have the option to have their passport photos printed by ItsEasy and delivered by first class or overnight mail, or have them emailed electronically to be printed by the user. In addition to the Department of State's passport fee, ItsEasy charges a fee of $29.95 for its services, which includes a trackable priority United States Postal Service shipping label, passport photos, the correct forms ,and order status updates.
“Why wouldn’t you want an app that saves you precious time and money," Alwadish adds. "We are providing you with peace of mind with government approved and regulated experts handling the entire process -- including pre-checking of documents, printing the photos, writing the check and gathering what you’d have to go buy yourself -- you’re in safe hands and we are able to advise you every step of the way. I can confidently say that you’ll be aware of where your application is at all times.”
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