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New travel rules
Monday - 3/23/2009, 5:25pm EDT
If you're planning on traveling outside of the U.S. by land or sea, listen up. More passport rules go into effect at the beginning of this summer.
Q: What are the new requirements?
A: Starting June 1st, you'll have to have a passport book or card to enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda - that applies to land and sea ports of entry. You'll remember that some other passport requirements went into effect in 2007 - requiring everyone traveling in and out of the U.S. by air to have a passport. Getyouhome.gov has a list of the new rules.
Q: What is the State Department doing to make people aware of these changes?
A: Actually, this Saturday, March 28th, all passport agencies and many passport acceptance facilities throughout the country are hosting "Passport Day in the U.S.A." Anyone who does NOT have a valid passport book or card is encouraged to apply for new documents on Passport Day. For this day only, expedite fees will be waived if you're applying at a Passport Agency, and you should have your passport in about four weeks (or faster for expedited service). There is only one passport agency in the D.C.-area, it is located at:
1111 19th Street, N.W.
First Floor, Sidewalk Level
Washington, DC 20036
Passport Acceptance Facilities in our area (many of which are located at post offices) are also participating in Passport Day, however the expedite fees will not be waived at these locations. You can find post offices that offer passport services in your area by going to travel.state.gov - where you can type in your zip code and a list of the participating facilities will pop up.
Q: Why are they doing this?
A: They want to make sure everyone is aware of the new passport requirements, and they want to make sure their own staff is ready for the influx of new applications. You recall a couple of years ago when the State Department was swamped with hundreds of thousands of new applications for passports. They want to make sure they are ahead of demand - while making sure that the rest of us are aware of the new requirements.
For more information, see the press release from the State Department: Passport Day In the USA - Saturday, March 28, 2009
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