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New Passport Laws You Should Know About in 2016

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For as long as I can remember it was necessary to have a passport only to travel internationally. But in 2016, this may all change. There are new passport regulations in place that will impact all travelers whether international or local.

1. Domestic Travel

Even if you'd like to travel to California or New York from within the U.S, believe it or not, you may need to acquire a passport in order to fly domestically starting this year.

A law was passed in 2005, after the tragedy of 9/11. Its goal was to provide a stricter requirement to prove identity. This interest was renewed after the Paris attack and the attacks in California, Homeland Security decided it was time to step up its security measures for the United States at the state level, and thus, the "REAL ID Act" was born.black lady passportFederal government can't directly force states to comply with this act, so Congress indirectly forces states to do so by requiring these "REAL IDs" at federally governed entities like military bases and points in and out of the country, such as airports and any other transport across state and country borders.

Some states feel this is a violation of privacy and/or will increase state costs to implement. So some states have chosen not to adopt these REAL ID standards or are scrambling to get things in place to comply. As a result, there are several non-compliant state-issued IDs that could require an additional form of identification to use (like a passport or passport card) whether travelling locally or internationally. Some states have gotten waivers to push out the deadline, others have not. To see where your state falls as of 12/28/2015, click here..

The best way to avoid issues in the TSA security line while the Feds and State duke it out? Apply for your passport &/or passport card now. It can take upwards to six weeks to receive it. 
2. Passport Denial - IRS Tax Liens

The government has also enacted another law called the "Revocation or Denial of Passport in Case of Certain Tax Delinquencies". The new bill passed by Congress in December states that if you have a tax debt, which amounts to $50,000 or more, your passport could be denied for renewal or new application rejected.

3. Passport Denial – Child Support in Arrears

This is not a "new" law by date, but in light of the aforementioned changes this could become an issue for renewal and new passport applicants. A program called "Passport Denial," that was authorized by a 1997 amendment the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) states that any person who owes child support in an amount greater than $2,500 will be denied a U.S. passport until the matter is resolved. (It used to be $5,000, but it was reduced to $2,500 in 2007.)

Additionally, if the person already has a passport, the U.S. government can revoke, restrict, or limit its use. Theoretically, it is difficult to enforce this without having physical possession of the person's passport, like during renewal, but physical possession could easily include TSA security screening at borders and airport checkpoints with the other new regs in place.

Bottom line, if you plan to travel anywhere, ensure you have no tax liens or child support issues and get your passport ASAP. There's nothing worse than not being able to go on a much-needed vacation because the TSA won't let you board the plane. The pat down is awful enough.