U.S. Government Guilty Of Passport Price Gouging?

NY Senator Chuck Schumer says that the state department is price gouging by charging $97 to process a passport. Apparently, it doesn’t cost nearly that much, according to a new congressional investigation.

From the AP:

At issue is a $30 portion of the fee intended to cover the cost of clerks examining and accepting passport applications.

Congressional investigators found that the fee was roughly double the actual cost when it was imposed in 2002.

And calculations show that this year, the government collected at least 111 million dollars more in fees than its stated costs.

The senators say passports shouldn’t be used to make profits and they want to know where that money went.

You can add us to the list of people who would also like to know where that money went.

Two Senators Think Travelers Were Gouged Over Passport Fees [WGRZ]
(Photo:Maulleigh)

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  1. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I got my passport renewed this year through my company because it was for a business trip. They paid for the passport plus expediting fees, a really astronomical amount considering a passport is necessary for travel outside the country. (What if you can’t afford one? You can’t leave?) Anyway, lots of companies do it. Even if every individual citizen refused to pay another thin dime for a passport, they’d still make plenty of money off of businesses.

  2. bugsbenny36 says:

    When and where can I get my money back! (Yeah right!)

  3. canerican says:

    Chuck Schumer wants to SAVE the taxpayers money? For some reason I think that this will end up becoming a tax. Schumer never wants to cut taxes… Could my Senator be improving?

  4. mgyqmb says:

    Even more appalling is the fees required to get it “expedited”, which is what it took to get my passport within 6 months before my trip to Morocco with my girlfriend over the summer.

    I think I spent more money on passports than I did in the country.

    /was there a whole month

  5. new and troubling questions says:

    this is news? at least it isn’t as bad as some of the prices for processing forms as the USCIS: [www.uscis.gov] Granted, some of the prices may be justifiable, but $340 for employment authorization (without which you probably won’t be able to make $340)?

  6. Lin-Z [linguist on duty] says:

    Considering that you can’t leave the country if you don’t have one, they should really bring the prices down. Especially if the fees don’t even go anywhere useful!

  7. cabinaero says:

    @supercheap: Just wait until you file an adjustment of status petiton — $1010. In the past year, I’ve written nearly $1800 in checks to the Dept. of Homeland Security.

  8. bohemian says:

    I thought this was crazy. They hike the price and then require a passport for going anywhere out of the country. I’m sorry but driving to Canada is now going to cost me the price of a passport x4 to get everyone legal.

  9. kc-guy says:

    What do you think pays for Jason Bourne’s fake passports, and the euros he keeps in that bank vault in Germany?

  10. DashTheHand says:

    Same reason why getting a drivers license costs $25+ now. Same reason why registering your car costs $120+. Same reason why you pay tons into taxes that don’t benefit you directly.

  11. BigNutty says:

    A Government agency that makes money? I would think the extra money above costs would go to modernization of the agency or to hire more workers to speed up the process. What’s wrong with that?

  12. JiminyChristmas says:

    Next thing you know you’ll be telling me it doesn’t really cost a credit card company $39 when a bill gets paid one day late.

  13. dirty foreigner says:

    @kc-guy: I’m not Jason Bourne, but I do own 3 passports. Last year I had to pay $107 for one passport, $180 for another, and next year I need a new US passport.

  14. timmus says:

    Great — so we’re heading to a world where only the wealthy can travel.

  15. synergy says:

    Oh great. I read this just as I’m resenting having to soon fork over for a damn passport in case my husband forces me to visit his family again. argh.

  16. synergy says:

    @cabinaero and @supercheap: I am SO glad my husband and I squeaked through getting all the forms in and approved before the new gouging fees went into effect. He’s not a permanent resident and unless he gets around to wanting to be a dual citizen, we’re not forking over more money to the USCIS anytime soon!

  17. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I figure it’s just one step on the slippery slope to trying to keep us from leaving at all. Paranoid? Well, my mother’s parents and grandparents are from Soviet Russia, and my dad’s from Hungary (as was all his family), and they didn’t think it would happen there, either.

  18. Frane says:

    Have any of you read the report that Mr. Schumer and Mr. Dorgan are talking about? The study talks about one of three fees the fees associated with a passport, the Execution fee ($30.00) not the whole cost ($97.00). If you spend $2000 in a trip I do not consider $97 to be a major limitation, nor I consider it a government plot to keep me form traveling. Of course if you allow the passport/visa courier companies to take you for a ride and you are dumb enough to pay they exorbitant fees then you are paying the price of your ignorance.

  19. Parting says:

    ”the USA is now 8-trillion dollars in debt”

    Who’s gonna pay?

  20. korith says:

    Here in Canada, it cost me $87 to renew a passport for 5 years just a month or two ago. Takes less than 2 weeks to get it normally. I believe I paid an extra $30 to get in 5 business days. I think another possible reason for the jacked up passport costs here in canada and in the u.s. now travelers going back and forth across the border require passports, before a driver’s license would work.

  21. avantartist says:

    two thumbs up to Senator Chuck Schumer

  22. it5five says:

    Was planning on getting a passport very soon. I think I’ll wait a little longer and find out what comes of this.

  23. tmanAg08 says:

    @it5five: you’re kidding, right? Any price change would probably take several YEARS to be instituted.

  24. Sam2k says:

    The government has to make some money somehow.

  25. Raignn says:

    My husband and I were furious when we found out how expensive it was to get our passport and expedite them because the government was so behind. We were to the passport agency four months before our trip to India and were told we should expedite them or we may not get them in time. Which to me seemed ridiculous, but who wants to risk not being able to go on a long planned three week vacation. So we were forced to pony up the dough.

    Too bad we’ll never get any sort of refund for the government screwing the public with their own policies. We shouldn’t have to pay because they implemented policies that made it impossible for them to get passports to people three even four months in advance without expediting.

  26. miburo says:

    I don’t mind the fees as much as I mind how incredibly slow the system is. 111 million dollars should easily pay more workers to get it done quicker.

  27. Parting says:

    @Raignn: The problem is that they SUDDENLY implemented a new policy. If there was a year to prepare, regular and business travelers would order passports in advance. And waiting time would be less affected.

    Because of the ”SUPRISE” effect of this policy, waiting for a passport in USA ( and Canada, since now everyone has to get a passeport to get to USA ) is a lot longer then usual.

  28. Wormfather says:

    @cabinaero: Seriously, my wife changed her status this year from an employment visa to a family visa and the costs were redonkulus.

  29. eross says:

    This is one of hundreds of ways Bush Admin has jacked up taxes while claiming they have not (calling them “fees.” National park passes just went up more than 50% in one year.

  30. DarklingLena says:

    hah be glad you aren’t attempting for a green card. Lucky me I don’t need a us passport…dual nationality!

  31. MENDOZA!!!!! says:

    Can someone please make Shumer shut the hell up for 5 minutes? Seriously, Chuck, no one likes you.

  32. axiomatic says:

    “U.S. Government Guilty Of Passport Price Extortion

    OK I fixed the headline, you can re-post it.

  33. @tmanAg08: It depends. Fee changes can take place almost immediately if they have to. In other words, Congress says we’re not funding you unless you change this fee. You’d be surprised how fast the gov’t can move when you threaten their budget.

    That said it’s not likely.

    Passport fees are bad, but all the fees are nuts. They charge 80 bucks to take your fingerprints. I mean seriously.

    List of Immigration fees
    [www.uscis.gov]

  34. Buran says:

    @bohemian: That’s what a passport is for. A drivers license is not a travel document. I don’t agree with the fees, but if you want to travel, you need to be carrying a passport. I’ve had one since I was a kid. Griping that a non-travel document isn’t accepted for travel purposes is silly.

  35. hustler says:

    I ordered a passport on october 8, 2006. In April I finally got tired of waiting on the bullshit, so I ordered another one with the expedited fee to vacation in mexico. I just called again, and no one has a record of my passport application.

  36. dcndn says:

    If you paid for expedited passports, but didn’t get them within 14 days, you might be able to get a refund. News story here

  37. royal72 says:

    “U.S. Government Guilty Of Passport Price Gouging?”

    in a word, YES!

  38. Frane says:

    Mr. Shumer is clearly and plainly grandstanding in an election year.@avantartist:

  39. Frane says:

    My sister just applied for her paspsort and it was in her hands in less than the 6 weeks they promise. Of course this the slow season for them.@miburo: