You’ve got everything ready for The Big International Trip You’ve Been Planning Forever: Bags are packed, itineraries are confirmed and you’ve made sure all your documents are in order, including that all important passport. But before you fly, you might want to check its expiration date — because depending on where you’re going, that passport might not work within six months of expiring. [More]
It was the passport she was looking for, but British officials didn’t want to allow a woman to sign that official document using her middle name of “Skywalker.” The Home Office said the name is a no-go because it infringes on a trademark. This, despite the fact that she’s used the moniker on other official documents. [More]
I know, we all just love it when we can get our hands on a juicy story, hot off the Internet presses, that seems to be the perfect storm of situational comedy in real life. For example, Dad gets stuck in South Korea on a family trip after his kid doodles all over his passport, rendering it unusable. Kids these days! Smack on the forehead! Except it’s probably not true. [More]
The people of New Jersey represent just about every racial and ethnic group you could imagine, so not everyone is going to fit into the standard mold of first name/middle initial/last name. And even though state authorities are well aware of this fact, they would rather have drivers legally change their names than update the state’s outdated license database. [More]
Anyone who’s ever flown internationally has had that heartbeat-skipping moment: “Wait, is my passport expired?” I had it a few months before flying to England, and my heart didn’t rest until my newly-issued passport was in my hands. But one woman who flew to Europe from the U.S. says she didn’t have that moment until it was too late, when she realized her passport was a year expired. Turns out a bunch of security agents missed it, too. Oops. [More]
We’ve posted numerous stories in recent years about airline staffers booting passengers from flights or having them detained after the plane lands for reasons that seem pretty petty. And here’s the story of a Consumerist reader who says he wasn’t even allowed on his plane because an American Airlines employee had issues with both of his passports, even though the TSA had no problems. [More]
Quick — name off every address at which you’ve resided. Finished? Now let’s hear the addresses, phone numbers and names of supervisors at every job you’ve ever had. And when you’re finished with that, cough up your mom’s address at wherever she was living a year before you were born. [More]
If you have apply or renew passport on your to-do list, better put it on your “done” list this week if you want to save money. Starting July 13, new higher passport fees go into effect. [More]
The State Department is advising travelers using super-secure RFID-enabled passports to buy a “radio-opaque” holster, because it turns out that RFID chips aren’t so super-secure after all. Don’t fret if “radio-opaque sheath” isn’t on your holiday shopping list, this is thankfully one of those rare problems that you can solve with a hammer…
Nick has written in to warn us about a fake IRS scam that lately has been targeting nonresident aliens (e.g. teachers and researchers) working in the U.S., as well as American citizens working abroad. In the scam, which has been going on since at least 2002 (pdf), the target receives a faxed request from the IRS to provide his name, SSN, and pretty much every other bit of data you’d need to take over a person’s financial identity.
What do you do if you need a passport in less than three weeks? Don’t shell out for one of those passport expediters, call your Member of Congress. They have these things called constituent liaisons, whose whole reason for existence is prodding other executive agencies. This is the number one way to get a passport quickly. Call the district office for your Congress Critter, which is the number that doesn’t start with 202. A list of Members of Congress can be found here. Another thing to try is paying the extra $60 at the USPS for expedited passport service. The best thing to do is, of course, apply early, but if for some reason that hasn’t happened, getting a hold of a constituent liaison is the way to go.
If you have a computer and a digital camera, there’s no reason to ever pay a drugstore $8 for a couple of crummy passport photos and lousy customer service. This blogger discovered that he couldn’t even get an in-focus photo from a local CVS: “When we pointed that out, he was like ‘Oh really? don’t worry all photos printed here look like that and no one ever came back because a photo was not accepted.'” If you’re not Photoshop-savvy, just use the free epassportphoto.com website.
Despite all the much-publicized delays with passport applications this year, the government has announced that they’ll still be unprepared for the onslaught of applications come 2008, so if you know you’ll need a new/renewed passport you should apply now during the slow season. In January, the land and sea portion of the new passport law goes into effect, requiring everyone who travels to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean to show proof of citizenship.
Travelers paying $60 to expedite their passport application should prepare to wait three weeks, not three business days, for their passport to arrive. The State Department published the change last week in the Federal Register, shifting the target processing date for expedited applications from “three business days” to “a number of business days,” which, according to the Washington Post, means three weeks. Members of Congress lambasted the change:
The State Department will issue refunds to people who paid to expedite their passport application, but didn’t receive their passport within fourteen days. Expediting a passport costs $60 on top of the standard $97 application fee. The move comes after the State Department admitted they could not handle a spike in passport applications caused by new rules that prevent citizens from traveling to neighboring nations without a passport.
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.