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)