Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Passport Day in the USA this Saturday, March 27th

If you have a USA passport, listen up: This Saturday, March 27th, State Department passport offices in major cities across the USA, normally open only on weekdays and only by appointment, will be open on Saturday and with no appointments necessary for walk-in applications.

If you're a USA citizen and don't have a passport, or your passport is about to expire, Passport Day makes it a little easier to get yours before the State Dept. finalizes their proposed increases in passport fees.

But it's even more important to act now if you already have a USA passport: the proposal would impose a new fee of US$82 to add visa pages to a full passport, which is currently free. I assume that the State Department is trying to make the fee to add pages close enough to that of a new passport that passport holders will replace their old passports with new ones with remotely-readable RFID chips rather than extend the use of their older chip-free passports by having pages added to them.

My last trip around the world used 21 passport pages -- almost enough to fill up a standard passport. If you think you might ever want to take such a trip, get enough pages added to your passport now, while it's still free. Fill out Department of State Form DS-4085, bring it and your current passport to any passport application acceptance office, and they'll send you back your passport with more blank pages for future travels in, typically, anywhere from 2 weeks to two months. You can pay US$60 for "expedited" service, which is usually faster but not guaranteed. If you don't drop off your passport at a passport office on "Passport Day", you'll have to pay to mail it in and have it mailed back, or make a weekday appointment and pay for expedited service to deal with the passport office in person.

Some people think they have to wait until their passport is full before they can get more pages added, but State Department spokesperson Andres Rodriguez told me specifically "There is no minimum [number of blank pages remaining] for adding pages." So if, like many people, you asked for a thicker passport but didn't get one, this is your chance to get the State Department's mistake corrected before they start charging for it.

And if you missed the deadline to tell the State Dept. that you oppose the proposed fee increases, get your comments ready: the State Dept. now says that they have cancelled their plans for an in-person public hearing (presumably in the face of greater-than-expected public opposition), but plan to have another 15-day window for written public comments starting sometime next week.

Link | Posted by Edward on Tuesday, 23 March 2010, 18:14 ( 6:14 PM) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

What happens if you continue traveling with a "full" passport. Do other countries just stamp over the old pages???? where is the pressure to add more pages???

Posted by: gringog, 23 March 2010, 22:04 (10:04 PM)

Border guards and immigration inspectors won't stamp over existing stamps. They will turn you back, and make you go to your country's consulate or embassy to get more blank pages added (or get a new passport) before they will allow you to proceed or issue you a visa. Once your passport is full, you can't do anything that requires a new stamp in your passport until you get pages added or get a new passport.

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 23 March 2010, 22:22 (10:22 PM)

Do you happen to know if "passport day" will be happening in places like Argentina?

Posted by: JoAnn, 24 March 2010, 01:46 ( 1:46 AM)

I checked the State Dept. website and was surprised to find that, at least in Ohio, only offices in northern Ohio and in some rural counties are participating. Looks like the Republican counties just aren't getting the love.

Posted by: Kim Rieck, 24 March 2010, 08:00 ( 8:00 AM)

That was a superb tip to show up on Passport Day; I couldn't have had better service from an agency of the US government and I'm still in awe of the fact that it took less than a week to get my passport back.

BTW, I'm in the process of sending comments to the State Department on the increased fees.

I had been thinking of getting additional pages for my passport and your article prompted me to visit the Dallas Passport Agency where the State Dept. employees gave me great service. Armed with your article, I knew that I would not be paying for the new visa pages. I had to smile when the Passport Agency rep kept re-typing the transaction into her computer, expecting to be shown a charge for this service. Finally, she gave up and told me - "I feel weird not charging you for this." I thanked her and went on my way. This afternoon I received my passport back with the additional visa pages enclosed.

Thanks again for your excellent article on this.

Posted by: John Schmit, 2 April 2010, 10:46 (10:46 AM)
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