State Department Delays Implementation Of New Passport Regulations Until September 30

Unable to cope with the overwhelming demand for new passports, the State Department will allow Americans to travel between Mexico, Canada and Caribbean nations without a passport until September 30. Citizens have needed a passport to fly to and from neighboring nations since January 23.

Until September 30, you can visit our neighbors without a passport if you have a government-issued ID and a receipt from the State Department showing that you have applied for a new passport. People without the State Department receipt “should not expect to be accommodated.” If you need a passport immediately despite the relaxed regulations, call your Member of Congress. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Q & A on new passport rules [Boston Globe]
U.S. Citizens with Pending Passport Applications Allowed Temporary Travel Flexibility [State Department]
(Photo: bryansblog)

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  1. FREAKHEAD says:

    Thank YOU! Finally! I travel extensively for work and the last 2 trips to Canada had to be made by car b/c I still haven’t gotten my passport. It is in processing hell and my work didn’t want to spring for the expedited service.

    I have another one coming up and I was not looking forward to it. Dragging my birth certificate and spending 2 hours in immigration.

    Although the U.S. has hired more people to handle the increase, I just don’t think the facilities can handle it. I doubt they fully grasped just how many people travel between both countries.

  2. TWinter says:

    First, I think requiring passports to enter the country from Canada, Mexico, etc. is a good idea. But this whole passport mess has really undermined my confidence in the basic competence of the federal government. It should have been obvious to everyone involved that this was going to lead to a massive spike in passport applications. They hired some extra people, but they probably need to permanently triple or quadruple the size of the agency because this regulation will permanently and significantly increase the percentage of Americans needing new passports and renewing old ones. The numbers will never go back to what they were before this change and I’m just floored to hear government officials talking about how the demand is unprecedented, unanticipated, blah, blah, blah.

    I’m just glad my passport is valid until 2012. Maybe they’ll get it sorted out by then.

  3. TWinter says:

    @FREAKHEAD: The government didn’t need to “grasp” anything about this issue. They already count the people crossing the border every day, they know how many people travel between the countries involved. And it wouldn’t have been too much of a problem when they found out about this to ask the border agents at the relevant crossings to keep track for a week or two of how many reentering Americans had passports with them. From there it’s just a little math to figure out that a huge wave of applications is to be expected.

  4. badgeman46 says:

    Expect to see the same reaction from the FCC when it comes to implementing digital broadcast TV. I will officially predict that the transition will be delayed at least a year.

  5. Buran says:

    @badgeman46: Uh, it’s already been delayed multiple times. We were supposed to have been on digital TV for years already. It’s time to say “you footdraggers have had plenty of time and it’s time to get with the future”. Besides, most people have cable service these days and those people aren’t going to notice a difference anyhow.

  6. Arlahna says:

    I got a passport recently for a cruise I’m taking out of Vancouver BC in August. Now I feel totally jipped! I had to rush my passport just to have the peace of mind of making sure I’d have it in time. I’d like my $60 back, please.

  7. cindel says:

    Does anyone

  8. cindel says:

    I wasn’t finish..

    Does anyone know the approx time of getting a new passport? I am taking a trip to Bali in October and I need my passport in order to get a visa; I won’t do a VOA since this is my first trip out of the country.

  9. runpete says:

    @cindel,

    Last Friday (June 8th) marked 10 weeks since I applied for my passport. This is the EXPECTED wait time to get it. So, I should have it by the end of the month. If you’re really nervous, simply pay the expedite fee and you’ll get it within a month or less I believe.

    So, assuming all goes well, you should get your passport in late August or early September if you apply now.

  10. badgeman46 says:

    @Buran: I dissagree. Us “footdraggers” like myself, have a perfectly good TV that has crystal clear picture quality and its ten years old, will probably run for another 20. Compare to all this new hd 1002 googly dp plazma TV sets that my friends dropped a fortune on, but they cant even play video games on them because they aren’t fast enough. I think most of us footdraggers would rather keep our tvs spend thousands on broken technology or 100m bucks a month on cable just to watch it.

  11. formergr says:

    Cindel, without expedited service the estimates on getting a passport run anywhere between 4 weeks and 14 weeks depending on your luck/location/phase of the moon right now.

    If you’re not traveling until October, you should be fine getting it without expedited service, but it may be worth it to drop the extra $60 for peace of mind, since I’m sure your arrangements to Bali cost many magnitudes of order more than that.

  12. Her Grace says:

    Cindel, apply now. I would personally also spring for the expedited service, just in case. Wouldn’t you rather have it a couple months in advance and be able to laugh at yourself for being neurotic than worry about possibly having to drive to the passport office the day before your trip to get a 24 hour service? If you are scheduled to leave within 24 hours, you can apply in person and have it done, but it’s costly and nervewrecking.

    In the Irish dancing (think Riverdancing, but with more accordians and big curly wigs) community, this whole mess is a huge fuss. The US and Canada hold an international-level, very high callibre competition every July (oddly called ‘nationals’), and this year is Canada’s turn to host. The American dancers are all in a panic, as many haven’t gotten their passports back yet. I’m so sick of them all bitching about it on the message boards. I feel better having vented.

  13. plim says:

    ARGH…i just applied for my son’s passport, including expedited service because we’re going to aruba in august. can i get my expedited service fee back?! he’s only 11 months old!!!

    sorry…i’m just upset…

  14. Pelagius says:

    Our life is on hold because the government similarly can’t get its shit together on citizenship applications.
    The Patriot Act dropped another layer of “security” called a “National Name Check” on top of the fingerprint checks already required without allocating ANY additional resources to the FBI office that processes these things. False hits are quite common and delays of 2-3 years aren’t unheard of. In the meantime, no one at the FBI returns your calls and the USCIS says they can’t do anything about it.
    For immigrants stuck in this bureaucratic dead zone it could mean living apart from your spouse and children for years, rather than missing that trip to Cabo.

  15. nucleotide says:

    If you live near a passport agency just make an appointment for a date withing 14 days before you’re leaving. After applying, you can pick up your passport the next day. The phone system is f**ked but once you learn the menu numbers you can the use them to get quickly to the reservation system.

    Helped my husband with this back in April. The San Francisco agency was mobbed with desperate people that had mailed their applications in and were traveling soon. It took a while, about 3 hours to wait to apply and about 2 hours to wait to pick it up. Still, better to know that you will actually get your passport.

    Another cool thing is that they waived a passport fee that I would have incorrectly paid had I mailed the application in. Since this was a renewal for a temp passport he got after losing his in Tokyo.

  16. Negative says:

    Contacting my Congressman worked for me.

    I was 3 days away from my trip to Cancun and I was tired of the people at the Passport Agency blowing me off. I had been calling them for weeks (over a month) before my trip and I kept asking if I should pay the expediting fee and they told me every time that I was fine and I’d get it on time. It wasn’t until I was a week away from my trip that they suddenly decided that I needed to expedite but then they told me that it was probably too late.

    I sent my Congressman an email and they called me back the same day. The woman at his office had the Passport Agency overnight my passport to me the day before my trip.

    The worst part is that someone at the Passport Agency had set my passport aside because someone decided that I was going to fly across the country and pick it up in person. It had been ready to ship for two days. Of course every time I called it was supposedly ‘still being processed’.

    Also, they had the wrong address even though I had corrected it over the phone 3 times.

  17. John Stracke says:

    @TWinter:

    The government didn’t need to “grasp” anything about this issue. They already count the people crossing the border every day, they know how many people travel between the countries involved.

    Counting the number of border crossings doesn’t tell them how many different people are crossing the border, which is what matters here.

  18. yalej says:

    I just got a passport for my baby daughter. We did the expedited processing, and it took about 2 weeks. This was for expected travel in October. I don’t get why people didn’t anticipate this and apply for one well in advance of their travel dates.

  19. nucleotide says:

    @yalej: Your lucky. When I was at the SF agency I talked to a lot of people that had their applications expedited and still had not received them after 4 weeks.

  20. Buran says:

    @badgeman46: So get a digital to analog converter when they’re up for sale, and don’t complain. People like you are holding things up for everyone, and it’s an easy solution. If you haven’t upgraded your TV in all these years, you can afford the cheap converter boxes.

  21. QuirkyRachel says:

    Ok, I know that as soon as the government puts in new regulations it’s going to take a while for the paperwork to catch up, but why on earth would anyone wait until the last minute to apply for a passport? My family always has passports up to date, and when my dad needed a new one for business travel 5 months in advance, they asked for expedited processing.

  22. Anitra says:

    Anyone who thinks they’ll need a passport in the next 6 months should be applying NOW. Since the beginning of the year, the state department has been receiving more passport applications each month than they received last year.

    I also don’t understand why so many people have waited until a few weeks before their trip. Every time I commit to an out-of-country trip, I immediately check to see if my passport is up-to-date.

  23. nucleotide says:

    @QuirkyRachel: Must be nice to have advanced notice of travel. Not everyone has that luxury. I once found out I was going to Taiwan within 7 days of the departure date. I made an appointment and got the passport within 2 days. This was in 2000 and it only took about 15 minutes to apply unlike the mess that exists today.

  24. QuirkyRachel says:

    @zirkus: But that’s the thing. We don’t have advance notice. We have family all over the world. Lord forbid my Granny dies and I can’t travel to be there. That’s why we *always* have passports.

  25. nucleotide says:

    @QuirkyRachel: Already having a passport makes it easier doesn’t it? But it really doesn’t help those that have an unforeseen need for last minute international travel.

    I suppose you haven’t run out of pages in your passport. Or have lost one or any other unexpected reason to have a passport renewed.

    The “why on earth would anyone wait until the last minute” argument isn’t productive and definitely doesn’t apply to most of the people I met that mailed their passports 12 weeks in advanced only to have to drive for 4 hours to wait in line for 6 hours and get a hotel then wait for 3 more hours the next day to pick up their passport that should have arrived 4 weeks earlier.

  26. pdios1 says:

    Not sure how accurate the passport policy to neighboring countries plays out, since last I traveled three-weeks ago to Mexico and had one hell of a tortilla getting back to the States.

    Unfortunately (and embarrassingly enough – coming from NYC) I was pick-pocketed and besides my wallet being taken, so was my passport. I went immediately to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City where I was required to pay about $125 (USD) to have a new passport expedited.

    Four hours later, I’m rushing to the airport to check-in for my flight, when I am told that I will need to speak with the authorities at Immigration. The man I end up speaking to is a tall-burly man who spits while he speaks. Turns out, I had to shell out another 45 tacos to miss my flight and spend my overnight at the airport to catch a morning flight back to New York.

    Wouldn’t the embassy be lenient about this policy and not enforce a renewal to get back?

    I’m lost with this one . . .

  27. Jiminy Christmas says:

    Question: WTF is a ‘State Department passport receipt’?

    I applied for my passport 6 weeks ago at a passport acceptance office in a post office and didn’t get jack that looks like a receipt with ‘State Department’ on it.

  28. Elvisisdead says:

    From my former post on passport issues:

    I can confirm that a congressman’s office can really expedite things. This past monday, 3/19/07, we waited in line for 5 hours to apply for my 6-month-old’s passport. We had it processed and sealed in an envelope just like a visa service was going to handle it. We then Express Mailed it to a friend of ours who is a deputy chief of staff for a congressman (unnamed to protect them).

    If you mail it to the Congressional office, it will be held for AT LEAST 72 hours while it’s scanned for Anthrax, etc. Possibly longer. We mailed it to the staffer’s home address (because they are a personal friend – don’t expect a regular staffer to do this for you). It was then hand-delivered to the Congressional passport at B-229 of the Cannon House Office Building.

    We got my child’s passport in the mail today (3/23/07). Less than 5 day processing. There’s not a visa service that can deliver that for any amount of money. Use your elected official. It’s a service they offer.

    @jrford8
    You won’t get one with DoS on it. You get the USPS receipt, because they are the agent handling passports for the DoS.

    @pdios
    One of my buddies works as a consular officer in Guadalajara. They will NEVER permit you to re-enter without a replacement passport. Embassies and Consular Officers can’t issue them, but they can have them overnighted in diplomatic pouches. What happens if someone stole your passport and then shows up posing as you to the embassy? The embassy gives them a note from Epstein’s mom that permits entry? Won’t even ask why you were walking around Mexico City with your passport in a pickable location.