The State Department is urging American citizens with expiring passports to renew them as soon as possible as it prepares for a surge in applications in the next three years.

The agency issued roughly 14 million U.S. passports in 2014, and suspects that number is on the rise, in part because of the 10-year anniversary in 2017 of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which requires that U.S. citizens show a valid passport or other approved document when returning to the U.S. by land, air or sea from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Central or South America. Officials saw a wave of applications when the initiative took effect in 2007, and expect an influx of renewal applications as those passports begin to expire.

U.S. officials have also noted that an increasing number of foreign countries require at least six months of passport validity before letting U.S.-passport holders enter.

“The Department … encourages travelers to submit passport applications well ahead of their planned travel dates in order to avoid delays receiving their travel documents,” the State Department said, in announcing an “Apply Early” campaign on Aug. 31.

Most adults can renew passports via mail, but children and first-time adult applicants must appear in person at a passport acceptance facility such as select post offices, courthouses or public libraries. For more information, visit this State Department web page.

BAL Analysis: U.S. citizens with passports that will expire this year should renew them as soon as possible, particularly in light of the spike in passport applications the State Department is expecting. Normal passport processing times range from four to six weeks, with three-week expedited services available for an additional government fee of $60 on top of the standard $110 passport renewal fee. Travelers requiring urgent renewals may contact their BAL attorney for additional expedited processing options of 1-2 days and, in some circumstances, same-day processing.

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