Heads up, travelers! 'Passport crisis' could delay your plans

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Almost 10 years ago, the United States changed requirements for travel within the Western Hemisphere, requiring a passport for air travel to and from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean — and if you are one of the millions who applied for a passport in 2007, think about renewing now.

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Also think about renewing soon if you are a first-time applicant who might get caught in the rush of people who applied in 2007 because of the new requirements. 

Applications actually surged from 12.1 million in 2006 to 18.6 million the next year. And since passports are valid for 10 years, all those extra documents will expire at the same time, too.

In large part because of the renewals, government officials anticipate a surge in applications starting around New Year — as many as 16 million in 2016 and 20 million the next year.

You can renew six months or even a year before your passport expires, to avoid the waiting game. Otherwise, be prepared to to wait as long as 10 weeks for an application to go through.

And if you are traveling enough that you are running out of pages to stamp, that’s a reason to renew, too.

Although New Year will bring a rush, officials say September through December is a typically slower passport application season.

You cannot apply online, but mail is a good option. Click here for more information. 

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