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July 14, 2021 - Americans hoping to travel abroad this summer may have to delay their plans if they need new or renewed passports. The State Department says the wait for a passport is now between 12 weeks and 18 weeks, even if you pay for expedited processing.
It's because of ripple effects from the coronavirus pandemic that caused extreme disruptions to the process at domestic issuance facilities and overseas embassies and consulates. A department official says a backlog of 1.5 to 2 million applications means that applications submitted now probably will not be issued until the fall. Say it here.
April 28, 2021 - Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending the REAL ID full enforcement date by 19 months, from October 1, 2021 to May 3, 2023, due to circumstances resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has significantly impacted states’ ability to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, with many driver’s licensing agencies still operating at limited capacity. DHS will publish an interim final rule in the coming days to effectuate this enforcement date change.
Individuals who are unable to verify their identity will not be permitted to enter the TSA checkpoint and will not be allowed to fly. Other acceptable forms of ID, such as state-issued-enhanced driver's license, valid passport, or U.S. military ID will be mandatory for air travel.
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US passport holders from the United States (and six other countries; Australia, Canada. Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea) can now use the automated “ePassort Gates” (where available) when arriving in the UK.
These passengers can now avoid potential wait times at immigration by inserting their passport into the machines, having their photograph taken and then entering the country automatically without any human interaction. Best of all, there’s no registration required, though-travelers. Passengers under age 12 years are not permitted to use the ePassport gates.
The UK has also done away with paper landing cards. Regardless if you have access to ePassport gates, you’ll no longer have to complete personal details by hand each time you enter the United Kingdom.
United Kingdom Departure Tax - AA Non-Rev Travelers
March 15, 2019 - Effective immediately, if you are accommodated in a premium cabin, you will pay the same, lower tax rate as you would in Main Cabin. This update does not affect the cost of parent (D2P) or guest (D3) travel. The change is effective now, however, the Travel Planner does not yet reflect it yet (so you won't see it reflected in your estimated charges) as of now.
The EU and EEA
The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 28 countries. It operates an internal (or single) market which allows free movement of goods, capital, services and people between member states.
(EU) EUROPEAN UNION COUNTRIES
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
EUROPEAN ECONOMIC COUNTRIES
The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It allows them to be part of the EU’s single market.
Switzerland is neither an EU nor EEA member but is part of the single market - this means Swiss nationals have the same rights to live and work in the UK as other EEA nationals.
E. T. I. A. S.
EUROPEAN TRAVEL INFORMATION
AND AUTHORIZATION SYSTEM
Beginning in 2021, visitors from the United States, along with dozens of other nations, will be required to complete an online application for something called an ETIAS, from “European Travel Information and Authorization System.”
It’s essentially the reciprocal of the ESTA authorization required of EU nationals visiting the US: not strictly a visa, but a Registration..
Once it is implemented, visitors from 60 countries will be eligible to apply for ETIAS online. The system will serve as a pre-screen for travelers entering from visa-waiver countries, and anyone from one of those countries will need to have a valid ETIAS authorization and passport when arriving at any EU member country’s borders.
ETIAS will not require formal interviews,
nor any of the rigmarole involved when
visiting a nation that requires an actual
visa, like for example China.
You should be able to complete the online up the submission in about 10 minutes, providing your personal details, passport information, date of birth, country of residence and answering a few questions related to criminal history and travel to conflict zones.
Approval (or refusal) will be sent via email.
ETIAS VISA WAIVER FOR AMERICANS
Effective 2021 U.S. citizens traveling to Europe will be required to apply for an ETIAS. (European Travel Information and Authorization System) Visa Waiver.
Similar to other countries and regions in the world, Europe has recently decided to improve its security level to avoid any further problems with illegal immigration and terrorism.
This means that from 2021, all Americans traveling to a European Country in the SCHENGEN ZONE will require an ETIAS.
COST AND VALIDITY
It will cost 7 euros, or about $7.85
at current rates, and will apply to travelers between 18 and 70 years old.
Once obtained, it will “allow its holder to
stay in 26 different countries in Europe for a period of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
It is valid for 3 years from the date of
issuance or until the expiry date of the passport, whichever comes first.
ETIAS does not apply to the United Kingdom, which is not one of the countries in the Schengen Area.
The UK is weeks away from possibly leaving the European Union without a negotiated exit agreement, the so-called “no deal Brexit” that might result in serious disruptions to travel.
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