Passport Madness!

Way back in December we told you about the new passport requirements and encouraged you to get yourself a passport before the deadline of…yesterday. Now the passport scramble is on, especially for business travelers who need to expedite their passports. According to the NYT, it can be “difficult, if not impossible, to get an appointment in a timely fashion.”

Good news for you: It’s still possible to get a passport through the regular channels.

    The State Department insists that its offices are keeping up with the surging demand. Frank E. Moss, deputy assistant secretary of state for passport services, said last week that since late 2005, the department has hired 250 more adjudicators, who approve and process applications, and more contract workers. He said the department has also greatly expanded hours of operation at some regional passport processing offices. Of the 17 across the country, 14 are open to the public. The full list is available at travel.state.gov.

    “We’ve been planning for the new passport requirements for two years, and with those preparations, we are meeting the unprecedented demand for American passports,” Mr. Moss said.

It’ll still be busy, but not impossible. Regular processing takes about 6 weeks.

For more info on the new rule and obtaining a passport, click here. —MEGHANN MARCO

Scrambling to Get Hold of a Passport [NYT]

Comments

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  1. Scazza says:
  2. WindowSeat says:

    I’m amazed when someone tells me they don’t have a passport, it just seems to be one of those things that you need like a driver’s license or a credit card.

  3. Pelagius says:

    If you possibly can, get it done overseas. The embassy staff is so much more competent when it comes to this work.

  4. MoCo says:

    Come on, travelers.

    It’s not like the Dept. of State didn’t advertise the new rule months and months in advance.

  5. Hitchcock says:

    My mom just got her passport. She mailed in her application the week before Christmas and got hers in the mail last week. They publish a 6-8 week turn around time (She did not pay extra for expedited) and got hers well under that, even with the holidays.

  6. janine says:

    Some people don’t have cars and credit cards either.

  7. ElizabethD says:

    Yo, WindowSeat: Umm, we’re not all able to afford jet-setting around the world, ya know. Since hubby and I traveled to South America in 1991, I haven’t been out of this country (sob!) except for Canada a couple of times, and those were before the passport requirement went into effect.

    But I do *want* to travel overseas again. I wonder if it’s worth applying for a passport and just having it on hand to avoid delays. Would it be a jinx on future travel — like, when you bring an umbrella with you and of course it doesn’t rain at all so you’re stuck with a useless umbrella?

  8. Kornkob says:

    $100 for a document that is of little use to the average American is a bit much. If you dont’ travel outside the country, why would someone have a passport.

    Consider this: If you only take 1 ‘real’ vacation a year you could travel every year and only experience a small fraction of what the continental US has to offer. And you can do it relatively cheaply. Overseas travel, on the other hand, gets expensive rapidly.

    Living in a nation of this size it doesn’t surprise me that most Americans don’t have a passport. After you trim off the working poor and consider whats left of the working class, you’ve already reduced the nubmer of people who woudl ahve a passport. Then figure in the fact that until just recently those Americans who could afford to travel could get to Mexico and Canada without a passport and that drops it some more. Add in the fact the Amernican territories (which I still think you can get to without a passport) like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

    All in all, untill recently there’s only a relatively small number of people who would have need of a passport.

  9. weave says:

    You may be able to get one in person at a passport office within an hour or so in an emergency. I did this 10 years ago with my brother in Philadephia. They wanted to see a plane ticket, which we had gotten earlier in the day. An hour later, passports in hand.

  10. WindowSeat says:

    I’m not doing much jet-setting myself, but you never know when the opportunity will present itself. I like having my passport locked up in the safe deposit box along with my birth certificate, etc. Maybe I’m a little OCD, but I worry about things like losing my wallet and ID and the drag it would be to replace them without supporting documents. I haven’t been out of the country for a couple years, but I know I will at some point and it really is easier to have it and renew every ten(?) years than not.

    Since security has tightened post 9/11, I’ve been using my passport as ID when I fly domestically.

    I also live about twenty miles from the Canadian border so I probably have more need of a passport than most people.

  11. marqlet says:

    If you really need one ASAP or it is an emergency, ie family dying overseas, you can contact your congressman or senator. They can sometimes provide a letter to a passport office. It happened to my boss’s daughter and he told us to call/write a letter, thankfully they were only going to Mexico and decided against calling the elected official.

  12. pestie says:

    I got a passport for the first time when I was 15 and went to Germany (or “West Germany,” as it was known at the time) on a school trip. I let it lapse and didn’t bother getting one again until a couple years ago, after I started dating my Canadian girlfriend. My first trip to Canada only involved a driver’s license and birth certificate for ID, but I figured it’d be easier with a passport, so I applied for a new one. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they didn’t need all sorts of supporting documentation, because I still had my expired passport from when I was 15. 3 weeks later, I have a brand new passport! Woo-hoo! And I was lucky, too, ’cause it wasn’t long after that when they announced the new passport requirements for travel to/from Canada. I got in well ahead of the rush.

  13. Prepared says:

    I was so glad I had a passport when the evening before a trip I discovered I had lost my drivers license. No problem at airport security.

  14. synergy says:

    North America is pretty damn big. I agree with Kornkob (as usual, it seems these days).

    If I hadn’t had relatives just inside Mexico I would never have left the country in first 20 years of my life and I only live 3 hours from the border. If I hadn’t married a Canadian man I would never have had to go to Canada. That’s still a lot of land to cover, so if it wasn’t for this call for passports which I think is really just another way for DHS to make some cash that’s not really making me any safer I think most people would never need a passport.

  15. Her Grace says:

    Pestie, as I understand it, it’s not uncommon, if you still have an old but lapsed passport, to get fast turn-around like you did. They already verified the info on you once, so it’s more of checking any updated things and processing those.

    If you ever even might go overseas, I see no reason NOT to get a passport. Yes, it’s a hundred bucks, but I consider mine money well spent (okay, so now I’m living overseas and I needed it, but that’s another point altogether). A renewal (non-lapsed) is cheaper, if I recall correctly. The peace of mind of having it on hand is worth the cost, to me. Also, in cases where multiple forms of photo-ID are required, a passport is an excellent and universally excepted one.

    Puerto Rico, the US Virigin Islands, and other territories of the US (Guam, etc) do not require a passport to travel to as they are federal territories. The Bahamas and other popular cruise destinations, which used to have passport-free ports for tourists, now do require a passport.
    http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1765.html

  16. olegna says:

    I think it’s kinda sad that 70-80% (I forget the exact figure) of American’s have such low interests in traveling abroad that they don’t even have a passport in case they do decide to go over the US border.

    It does make some sense that in a country the size of the US there are plenty of things to see & do at home. On the other hand, America is really becoming very homogenized — what IS the difference between St. Louis and Dallas anyway? (This is a major problem. For those that disagree, consider this: Spain isn’t much larger than Oregon and has 13 distinct provinces and has three languages — Baque, Spanish, of which there are at least two dialects, and Galician.) I blame that on commercial consolidation and careless urban planning — where every city has their “Bricktown Renaissance” and those local artist public sculpture competitions that are eerily similar (be it wolf statues in Manhattna, Buffalo statues in Oklahoma City, Walking fish in New Orleans, or Penguins in Austin) as if every urban planner in America all went to the same conference once.

    I also think it’s a bit disingenuous to blame it all on the size of the country — Americans in general are uninterested in things that aren’t “American” as any foreigner will tell you: an American will talk at length about their values in a friendly, optimistic and polite way, but there’s always this ‘smell’ that they’re trying to sell you something, like “wouldn’t it be great if your country was like ours.” It can be very unpleasant, especially to person from a country that was ravaged by right-wing death squads supported by the CIA and the Pentagon (Guatemala, Chile, Bangladesh, etc.), especially a person who might have a relative that was “picked up” and “disappeared” by some “freedom-loving” right-wing, CIA-backed dictatorship. To them, the US is the land of opportunity, but not a global beacon of freedom and humanitarianism. (Perhaps it shouldn’t be, but Americans could be a little more self aware. For example, many still cling to this idea that this whole adventure in Iraq is some kind of benevolent act to deliver happiness, security and stability to Iraq people. Bollocks! It has been done completely int he self-interest of US foreign policy, and Americans should have the guts to admit that! And they would if more of them were curious about the world.)

    >> American territories (which I still think you can get to without a passport) like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

    I believe the made Passports necessary for travel to US territories sometimes last year or the year before.

    >> You may be able to get one in person at a passport office within an hour or so in an emergency.

    They do offer expedited service, but it’ll cost ya. I’ve only done it at foreign Embassies abroad. I would be surprised if they offer expedited service within the US anymore – though I supposed they should for people who need to travel for emergencies.

    As I was once rudely told by an Embassy employee once when I reported my second Passport stolen: a Passport is a privilege, not a right.

  17. TWinter says:

    What I don’t get about this story is that it is being presented in the media as a huge hurdle to conducting business. The fact of the matter is that only a small percentage of the American public are businessmen who might need to travel abroad to conduct business on short notice. Would it be so hard for companies to suggest that their employees who fall into that category get a passport just in case? The things are valid for 10 years, so it’s not like this is something that has to be done all the time.

  18. Matthew says:

    Passports aren’t just for world travelers; I use mine all the time as a general-purpose official ID. One good reason for doing so: it has less of the information on it that I’d rather keep confidential (no home address).

    One less-good reason: my license is only a learner’s permit, which I find embarrassing to show at bars. Though I’m a full-grown adult and used to drive professionally, once I moved to NYC I let my license expire, figuring I’d never need it again. Which I haven’t, but I still recommend renewing regularly. A year after your license expires, it’s a whole new kind of pain in the ass to get reinstated.