Guest Author - Kara Williams
Traveling to Mexico or Central America, the Caribbean or Bermuda, Canada or South America for your 2007 honeymoon? If you're a U.S. citizen, you'll need a valid passport if you’re arriving in those foreign countries by air.
That means if you’re flying into any of the above regions, make sure you have a passport if your travel is taking place on or after January 23, 2007. That date has changed from the original January 1 deadline to accommodate holiday travelers.
If you are traveling by land or by sea to the above countries, and that includes driving across the border to Canada or taking cruise that leaves from Miami and docks and disembarks on any Caribbean Islands, you’ll need a passport as early as January 1, 2008.
With the influx of Americans who are applying for passports now, at the end of 2006, it may take longer than the six weeks the U.S. State Department currently allows for processing. It’s important to get to your local passport acceptance facility sooner than later to avoid the crunch!
New passport application
If you are applying for a passport for the first time, carefully read the details at the “U.S. Passport Application Information” link below. This information from the U.S. State Department spells out how to obtain a new passport.
From the website you can download all the forms to fill out before you bring them in to your local acceptance facility, which might be a court office, post office or library (enter your zip code on the State Department website to find yours).
Some facilities offer passport-photo services; be sure to call ahead if you don’t have your two two-by-two-inch photos already. The State Department website lists specifications for accepted photographs, for example, they must be taken up against a white or off-white background. I recommend paying to have a professional take them, lest your headshots end up too big or too small, or the background color isn’t “just right.” My local UPS Store has a special camera all set up to take passport photos, and for less than $20 I think it’s worth the cost to get perfect shots.
For travelers over 16, the cost of a new passport is now $97. A renewal for an adult costs $67. If you need your documents processed quickly, tack on a $60 expediting fee for each passport.
Passports for children
Remember, too, that children are required to have passports for travel. So if you’re bringing your kids along on your foreign vacation make sure they have this important document as well.
Note that when you’re applying for a passport for your child under 14, both parents must appear at the local acceptance facility together to sign a document, or if one parent is appearing, he or she must bring along the second parent’s notarized “statement of consent authorizing passport issuance for the child.” Alternatively, one parent can show proof of sole authority to apply, if, for example, the child’s birth certificate shows one parent as the only parent, if a court order has decreed sole custody, or the second parent has passed away.
Like any new applicant, children must appear in person at the processing center.