The US has stopped issuing new passports, unless in a “life-or-death emergency,” in an effort to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
In a statement on its website, the State Department asked Americans to avoid international travel at this time due to the impact of coronavirus. In line with that, it said, it will only offer passports to customers with a qualified emergency.
Examples of emergencies include travel due to serious illnesses, injuries or deaths in the immediate family, it said. Applicants must require travel outside the US within three days, and will have to submit “proof of the life-or-death emergency such as a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional.”
Applications received on or before March 19 will get processed, the agency said.
Individuals needing to renew their passports for future international travel can proceed as usual without the usual option for expedited service (at an additional $60), according to the State Department’s website.
Passport processing typically takes six to eight weeks, but the statement notes a possible delay in regular service for renewals submitted after March 20. The statement offers no information on expected delay times.
The virus has ravaged the world, infecting more than 1 million people and killing over 53,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The US is the hardest-hit country, and has more than 245,500 cases and at least 6,000 deaths. Top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has said the whole country should be under a stay-at-home order.
Thus far, 40 states have issued stay-at-home orders urging Americans not to leave the house.