Passport Day canceled, embassies abroad stay open

Courtesy bryansblog/Flickr

You may have to wait a few more days to get your passport. Tomorrow, April 9th, was slated to be Passport Day, an annual event when US passport agencies process passport and visa applications without requiring an appointment. A notice from the US State Department, however, confirms that the event has been canceled due to the federal budget crisis, stating:

"Because of a possible government shutdown, the Department of State must cancel 'Passport Day in the USA,' which had been scheduled for Saturday, April 9, 2011. During this annual event, passport agencies and participating passport acceptance facilities nationwide open their doors for U.S. citizens to receive passport services without an appointment. We regret that we cannot offer this service as planned."

The event has not been rescheduled. If a government shutdown occurs, passport offices will not accept any new applications. However, emergency passport services will continue and applications already in the system will be processed. The Department will also continue to issue travel advisories.

Americans traveling abroad during a government shutdown can expect to receive emergency support from local US Embassies, (e.g., life/death or medical emergencies, humanitarian cases involving minor children, arrests, assistance returning abducted children to/from the US, etc.). Embassies in conflict and danger zones will remain 100% staffed; these areas include Baghdad, Cairo, Islamabad, Kabul, Sana'a, Tokyo, Tunis, Valetta, and Abidjan.

US posts abroad are unlikely to be as affected by a government shutdown as domestic agencies. The Department of State's Guidance in the Absence of Appropriations states that "our posts abroad symbolize the presence of the United States of America abroad. Closing down or significantly scaling back operations abroad could immediately diminish our influence and damage our relations with the host governments." Additionally, the Department is responsible for providing critical information to all national security agencies that "helps prevent and contain crises affecting our national security."

For more information on how the shutdown would affect operations, visit the Department of State's Guidance in the Absence of Appropriations.

— Madeline Grimes


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