April 3, 2020 10:51 AM EDT

The U.S. State Department has stopped issuing passports due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with exceptions for people who have a “qualified life-or-death emergency.”

In a statement published March 27, the State Department advised Americans to avoid all international travel due to the spread of COVID-19, unless someone is experiencing an emergency and needs to travel within 72 hours.

Situations that qualify as “life-or-death emergencies” include serious illnesses, injuries or deaths among members of a person’s immediate family that requires travel outside of the U.S., according to the statement.

People who need a passport for emergency travel at this time are required to provide proof of the emergency, such as a death certificate or a signed letter from a hospital or doctor, along with proof of international travel, like a ticket or flight itinerary, and a passport application with supporting documents.

Routine applications or renewal requests for passports that come after March 20 will not receive expedited service, and the State Department has said regular service may be delayed.

 

Write to Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com.

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