Passport Regulations and Services - Are You Fully Prepared?
The Changing Passport Regulations
At the moment, if you are traveling to Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, Panama or the Caribbean, a passport is not necessary. But that will be changing soon. Due to The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, on January 8, 2007, all travelers coming from or returning from these destinations will need a passport to enter the United States.
This January 8, 2007 date is for travelers entering the United States by air or by sea. For travelers entering the United States across a land border, they will be required to start providing passports as identification on January 1, 2008. All of the new regulations are required for adults and children alike.
Currently, the regulation states that any traveler wishing to enter or re-enter the United States from these destinations needs to have a valid driver's license and a birth certificate. Those documents will not be enough once January hits. They will still be accepted if you are returning from a U.S. territory such as Guam, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Since they are U.S. territories, it is not considered leaving the United States when you visit there.
If you are planning to travel outside of the United States or its territories after the New Year and don't have a passport, now is the time to be applying for one. The average time for processing a passport is six weeks. The busy time for passport applications tends to be between January and July. You are likely to get your passport more quickly if you give in your application between August and December. So now is the time to do make your application. If you need your passport more quickly, there is an expedited service for an extra fee.
You may be wondering about the fees associated with a passport in general. Actually, they aren't so bad when you think about it. A passport is good for ten years, so when you divide the cost of the passport by the number of years it is valid, you're getting a pretty good bang for your buck. Much better than say the or so you probably have to pay every year to register a car in most states - even if none of your personal information changes..
So, what are the fees exactly? For children under sixteen, a passport will cost . For those sixteen and older, a passport will cost . To get a passport renewed, the fees are . So for an adult with his first passport, the cost ends up being .70 a year. Pretty cost effective, huh? Of course, those fees don't include the price paid for getting your passport photo or for the added fees if you want your application expedited.
If you have never applied for a passport before, there are some things you will want to know before applying.
• You must apply in person. There are over 7,000 facilities in the United States that can issue passports. To find the one that is near you, you can go to www.iafdb.travel.state.gov and type in your zip code. The website will direct you to the facilities that are nearest to you.
• You will need proof that you are a United States citizen or proof of your nationality. For U.S. citizens born in the U.S. you will need a certified copy of your birth certificate issued by a government office (not a hospital). For U.S. citizens born outside the U.S., you will need a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship. An expired U.S. passport can also be used as proof.
• Have your passport photos taken before applying. The type of photographs you need are very specific, but that is to ensure that no one else can use your passport. You must have two identical photographs that have been taken within the last six months. The size of the photographs must be 2 x 2 inches. Your picture within the photo must be between 1 and 1 3/8 inches. The photo must be on a white background. You must be facing forward, showing your full face and not wearing a hat or dark glasses.
• You will need a photo ID with your signature. This can be an expired U.S. passport, a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship, a valid government ID card, a valid military ID card, or a valid driver's license.
• Once you have all of your documents and photos in order, you can fill out an application for a passport known as a DS-11. Do not sign the application unless you are in the presence of the person who will be executing your passport. If you do sign it without the executor, your application will become invalid.
• You can download an application and have it filled out before you visit the facility that will issue your passport. To download the application, go to http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/forms/forms_847.html.
If you already have a passport, but it has expired you can renew your passport by mail if you meet the following requirements.
• Your passport must not be damaged.
• It must have been received within the past 15 years.
• You must have been at least 16 years old when it was issued.
• You still have the same name as the one in the passport (or a legal document proving your name change).
If you do not meet the above requirements, you must apply in person for a new passport.
About the Author: This important message on passport services was brought to you by daily travel air.