Updated Feb 4, 2019
Another possible government shutdown status is something travelers are keeping a close eye on this month. Following the longest partial shutdown in US history, President Trump announced on Sunday that he would not rule out another shutdown if the bipartisan committee negotiating over agency funding fails to include dedicated money for his proposed border wall.
Does a government shutdown affect travel?
According to a January 29th, 2019 survey* by InsureMyTrip, the majority of Americans say they wouldn’t postpone a vacation due to the possibility of another shutdown while 13 percent polled say they are concerned or stalling on vacation planning until the shutdown threat is over.
Government shutdown survey 2019.
However, travelers would be affected if their travel itineraries include stops at federal museums or parks. These locations would be closed or open with limited access.
- National parks, like Yellowstone (some areas may be accessible, but many facilities would close)
- National monuments
- Smithsonian museums and National Zoo
Does a government shutdown affect airports and security?
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is part of Homeland Security and while essential workers tend to continue to work during the shutdown, they would do so without pay. This includes:
- Air traffic controllers
- TSA workers
The January 2019 shutdown, the longest in history, affected airports and security in many ways. While air travel and security lines continue running fairly smoothly, there were signs of strain and longer waits lines due to the current shutdown.
For a short time, Washington Dulles International closed screening lanes because of absences by unpaid TSA agents. Airports in Houston and Miami also announced closures due to no-shows by agents.
InsureMyTrip recommends that travelers download the MyTSA App prior to departure to check accurate security wait times at their intended airport prior to departure.
Does a government shutdown affect passport processing?
Processing time remains the same during a government shutdown: 4-6 weeks for routine service and 2-3 weeks for expedited service. If you have a scheduled appointment at a U.S. Department of State passport agency or center, plan on keeping your appointment.
On December 22, 2018, the US State Department released an update on the passport processing during times of shutdown, stating it will continue to offer passport services during a lapse of appropriations for the federal government.
You can still apply for a U.S. passport book or passport card at all passport agencies and centers and acceptance facilities (such as U.S. post offices, libraries, or county clerk’s offices) during the lapse of appropriations. You can also renew your passport by mail (Source: US State Dept.)
Canceling a trip due to a government shutdown
A government shutdown may lead some travelers to consider postponing or canceling a trip. For example, a family may no longer want to take a trip to Yellowstone National Park or Washington DC due to closed parks and attractions.
For those with upcoming travel plans, InsureMyTrip recommends considering a travel insurance plan with the optional Cancel For Any Reason benefit. Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) is an optional benefit of travel insurance coverage which offers the opportunity to cancel travel plans for reasons other than those listed as “covered reasons” on a policy.
Need more information about CFAR, or any other travel insurance product, for an upcoming trip? We recommend calling our licensed Customer Care Representatives to discuss the best options for you.
*Google Survey asked 1,045 U.S. adult respondents whether they would postpone plans due to a looming threat of another government shutdown.