Who Needs A Passport?

By: teahupoo
The passport issue has become a sticky one in our post 911 world. In the United States in particular a new law called The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act was passed in 2004 requiring passports for travel to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico, and Canada. The government is phasing these areas in over time but by January 1st of 2008 the rules will be in effect for all of these areas. This section of the act, called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative calls for more stringent regulations where before one could travel from the U.S. to these destinations with only a picture ID and a birth certificate.

A passport has been required for international travel so there are no changes to be made there, but if you intend to travel in the Americas or the Caribbean after December 31st of 2006 you will need a passport.

So, how do you go about getting a passport you ask? Well, for starters give yourself plenty of time. It is suggested you allow at least six weeks prior to your departure. United States passports are issued through the Department of State and they will investigate to be sure that you don't have outstanding warrants, past due child support and other issues.

In order to obtain a passport for the first time you must appear in person at one of the more than 7,000 passport acceptance facilities located in the United States with two photographs of yourself, proof of U.S. citizenship such as a birth certificate, and a valid photo ID like a driver's license. These acceptance facilities can be found in many Federal, state, and probate courts as well as post offices and public libraries.

All persons traveling must have their own passports including infants. All minors under the age of fourteen must also appear in person and have the consent of both parents. In the case of divorced parents you will have to show the court order granting custody as well. If both parents cannot be present then one parent must submit the second parent's notarized consent authorizing the issuance of a passport. There is a form available called the DS-3053 from the State Department.

The fees for passports are as follows:

Age 16 and older the passport fee is $55 plus a security surcharge of $12 and an execution fee of $97.

Under the age of 16 the passport fee is reduced to $40 with the other fees remaining the same for a total of $82.

The acceptable forms of payment vary with each facility so you will have to check with them to see whether they accept checks or credit cards.
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