Can You Fly with an Expired Passport?

If you've got international travel coming up, you'll need to work on getting a passport renewal ASAP.
Lee Huffman
By Lee Huffman 
Edited by Giselle M. Cancio
Young backpackers checking-in at airport line counter

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It's not likely you can travel with an expired passport, as a passport is generally required for international air travel. It also doubles as a valid form of ID for domestic U.S. travel.

If you realize your passport has expired and you have immediate travel plans, you'll need to check the rules for the country you're visiting and quickly submit an application for a new passport.

Learn why and when you need a passport to travel, how to renew your passport and what the rules are for traveling with an expired passport.

Why do you need a passport to travel?

A passport is a standardized form of government identification for those traveling internationally, though it can often be used for identification purposes domestically, too.

Passports ensure that travelers are who they say they are when entering or leaving a country or in other situations when identification is necessary. In most circumstances, everyone entering or leaving a country by land, sea or air needs to have their own passport, even if they’re a child, toddler or baby.

Generally, U.S. passports must be valid for six months beyond the traveler’s departure date to enter another country. However, some countries allow entry to travelers with only three months’ validity on their passport, and others have different regulations altogether. It’s important to verify the country’s rules where you’re planning to travel to ensure you can enter.

How do you renew a passport?

Adult passports are valid for 10 years, and travelers can renew them by submitting an application to the U.S. Department of State.

If your passport has expired and was issued more than 15 years ago, you must apply for a new one. Child passports for those under 16 expire after five years and cannot be renewed.

To renew your passport, follow these steps:

  1. Complete a passport renewal application (Form DS-82).

  2. Get passport photos taken.

  3. Mail in your completed application and photos along with your current or expired passport and the required fees.

Currently, it takes up to 10 weeks to get a new passport or renew an existing one. However, there are ways to reduce the time it takes to get a new passport if you need it faster.

  • Expedited processing. By choosing expedited processing for an additional $60, your passport can be issued in three to five weeks.

  • Expedited delivery. Applicants can pay $19.53 for expedited delivery from the U.S. Postal Service. This upgrade delivers your new passport to you one to two days after it is mailed.

  • Urgent travel. This service is available by appointment at a passport agency and is for those with urgent travel plans within the next 14 days (or five days if you’ve already applied by mail). There is no fee for the appointment but spots are limited.

  • Emergency. In life-or-death situations that require travel within 72 hours, you may be able to obtain a passport the same day or the next day.

Passport expeditors or courier companies are another option to get your passport more quickly. These private, third-party companies are allowed to submit expedited passport applications on behalf of their customers. These agencies typically charge additional fees on top of the standard application and expedited service fees.

Can you fly with an expired passport?

Typically, travelers are required to have valid identification when flying. However, the rules can vary depending on whether you’re flying domestically or internationally.

Can you travel domestically with an expired passport?

A passport isn’t required for U.S. citizens traveling within the United States. If you’re flying within the U.S. and your passport has expired, it’s best to use another form of government identification. Forms of ID that are accepted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the airlines include state-issued driver’s licenses, state-issued ID cards and military ID.

If you’re traveling with an expired passport and don’t have one of the forms of ID listed above, you may still be able to fly if your passport hasn’t expired more than 12 months ago. However, you may be asked to show secondary forms of identification to prove your identity.

Can you fly with an expired passport to another country?

Traveling internationally requires a valid passport to depart the U.S. and/or return from a foreign country.

There are a few exceptions for passengers traveling within the Western Hemisphere. These include a NEXUS card when returning from Canada, a Merchant Mariner Document when traveling on official business or a Military Identification Card when traveling on official orders.

Traveling with expired passport rules during COVID

During the pandemic, the U.S. government issued a temporary order allowing those with an expired passport to fly home to the U.S. This rule granted travelers with passports expiring on or after Jan. 1, 2020, to return directly to the U.S. until June 30, 2022. This exception has since expired and is no longer valid.

What if your passport expired and you need to travel tomorrow?

If you’re traveling within three business days because of a life-or-death emergency of one of your immediate family members, you may be able to get a new passport the same day. Here’s how to get a passport quickly for next-day travel:

  1. Get documentation of the emergency. This could be a death certificate, letter from a mortuary or a letter from a hospital explaining your family member’s condition. It must be translated by a professional if it’s not in English.

  2. Obtain proof of your upcoming travel, such as an airline ticket or itinerary.

  3. Complete a passport application and get passport photos taken.

  4. Call the National Passport Information Center at (877) 487-2778 during business hours or (202) 647-4000 during non-business hours.

  5. Explain your situation and why you need to travel right away.

  6. If you qualify, the center will assist you in making an appointment at an eligible passport agency. Note that an appointment is not guaranteed.

  7. Bring proof of the emergency and travel plans, your passport application and payment for all necessary fees to your appointment.

Flying with an expired passport recapped

Travelers must have a valid passport when traveling internationally. However, if your passport has expired, you have a few options to get a new passport faster than the standard seven to 10 weeks it currently takes. The fees and process required will depend on how quickly you need your new passport.

In life-or-death situations, you may be able to get a new passport the same day if your international travel is within three business days.

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