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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawUS Immigration LawUS Embassy in Thailand Announces New Policy on Expired Passports

US Embassy in Thailand Announces New Policy on Expired Passports

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing the notion of expired US passports. A recent announcement from the US Embassy here in Bangkok, this announcement is June 4, 2021 announcement is titled: Message to U.S. Citizens: US Embassy, Bangkok (June 4, 2021). Location: Thailand Event: US Citizens may directly return to the United States with certain expired US passports." For those who want to look for this you can find this online at the U.S. Embassy's website, that is and again it is: Message to US Citizens: US Embassy, Bangkok (June 4, 2021).

Quoting directly: "If you are overseas and your passport expired on or after January 1, 2020, you may be able to use your expired passport to return directly to the United States until December 31, 2021. Quoting further: "You qualify for this exception if all the following are true: you are a US citizen; you are currently abroad seeking direct return to the United States; you are flying directly to the United States, a United States Territory or have only short-term transit ("connecting flights") through a foreign country on your direct return to the United States or to a United States Territory; your expired passport was originally valid for 10 years. Or if you were 15 years of age or younger when the passport was issued your expired passport was valid for 5 years; your expired passport is undamaged; your expired passport is unaltered; your expired passport is in your possession." 

Quoting further: "You do not qualify for this exception if you wish to depart from the United States to an international destination." So I think that somebody who is looking to use the US as like a lily pad; I can see that being like a dual national. They go into the US and then they take off using their other passport. You are going to have a problem with that because it is still an expired passport and once you are in the United States, I think the thinking is well you have used it to get here. That is the purpose. Quoting further: "You are currently abroad seeking to travel to a foreign country for any length of stay longer than an airport connection en route to the United States or to a United States territory." So that is like going to a third country and staying a while and then going to the US. "Your expired passport was limited in validity." What does that mean? Well there are certain emergency passports that can be issued and we have seen those issued often times for one year period as opposed to a 5 or a 10-year period. "Your expired passport is a special issuance passport such as diplomatic official service or no fee regular passport." I think that is self-explanatory and this is probably what could get some people jammed up probably more often than anything. "Your expired passport is damaged; your expired passport is altered; your expired passport is not in your possession." One question I would be curious to know on altered, is if one has a passport from the days when you could add pages; an addition of pages is considered an alteration. Most of those passport should be pretty well expired by now but I don't know, maybe there are a few left around. 

Then they go on and talk about routine passport processing time in the US and quoting directly: "Please be advised that currently routine passport processing in the United States can take 10 - 12 weeks." There is a lot more information in here. I urge those who are watching this that are really, really interested in this go check out the US Embassy Bangkok's website again,, and you can find this message on there. But I thought this was really interesting.

I really have to say it is, I hesitate to use the word nice but it is very accommodating that you are seeing the U.S. Government taking an active interest in problems for expats. It is also an expedience I think. People that are just looking to go to the United States that they just got their passport it happened to expire and due to logistical concerns out here as well as problems in getting appointments at the U.S. Embassy and things, I see where they came up with this is an expedience through the end of the year. Look if you just want to get on a plane and go to the US, even if your passport is expired you can go ahead and do that it appears.

Now it is probably a good idea to totally suss this out before getting on a plane. One may also want to go ahead and look into the policies of the Airline because notwithstanding that the Embassy and the United States is going to allow folks to return that way, the airline policy they are the one actually taking you there and I can see circumstances where they say "yes, we understand that may be the policy of the US government, but we don't want to risk it", because these airlines have issues with taking someone, especially knowingly, that could be deemed deportable. It may be on them to take them back out of the country. So again, depending on your circumstances, it may not be a terrible idea to contact a legal professional, gain some insight and guidance into the best ways to proceed.