By John Dodge
CHICAGO (CBS) — The U.S. State Department is anticipating a surge in passport renewals this year and is urging travelers to get it done sooner rather than later.
Ten years ago, the federal government changed its policy and required a passport for Americans entering the United States. In the past, U.S. citizens traveling from Mexico, Canada, Bermuda and the Caribbean did not need a passport.
That change created a surge in passport applications, which caught the State Department off guard.
Now, with those passports expiring soon, federal officials are urging citizens to get an early start to avoid any last-minute delays.
The New York Times reports the Bureau of Consular Affairs is expected to issue more than 17 million new passports and renewals this year, about 1.5 million more than in 2015.
Illinois residents also may be scrambling to get a passport because the state is not yet in compliance with a federal mandate to enhance its driver’s license–needed for all domestic air travel.
However, that isn’t really necessary right now as travelers do not need the new “Real ID” until 2018.
“Until January 22, 2018, residents of all states will still be able to use a state-issued driver’s license or identification card for domestic air travel,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.
Those without the new driver’s license by that date would need a passport, or other form of ID accepted by the Transportation Security Administration.