Passports: The Clock's Ticking
I'm nervous. I recently sent my battered, much-loved passport in to be renewed, and now I'm worried that the current upsurge in applications will cause my renewal to be delayed. It's a bad feeling, being without a passport.... I mean, what if I have to skip town in a hurry?
Why the upsurge? We've harped on this subject repeatedly in the print edition and in our chat, but we'd be remiss if we didn't nag you about it here, too: If you don't have a passport, get one. NOW.
First of all, everyone should have one on principle. But also, and more pressingly, as of next Tuesday (Jan. 23) the rules change, and travelers will need passports for trips they haven't been needed for before: namely, those flying to and from the Caribbean*, Bermuda and the Bahamas; South and Central America; Canada; and Mexico. So far you can still travel to those places by land and sea without that little blue document, but that, too, will change (in 2008).
So, even though I'm further hurting my chances of not getting my passport back soon, you really should drop everything and head for your nearest "passport facility" (usually a post office). First-timers will need to apply in person; if you're just renewing, you can download the form online, stop in at a CVS or camera shop to get your picture taken, and mail it all in with a check. Find details and downloadable forms here. It'll be the best $97 you ever spent. Also, don't forget that many Caribbean islands and hoteliers will pay for your passport if you visit during a certain time, as in this offer from the Bahamas.
* Not including U.S. territories like Puerto Rico and the three U.S. Virgin Islands.
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