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Passport Reprieve

Cindy Loose

Inundated with complaints and angry would-be travelers afraid they'll have to stay home because their passports are so late in arriving, the U.S. State Department yesterday came up with a temporary solution for at least some Americans:

From now until the end of September, American citizens who applied for passports but have not received them will be allowed to fly to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean without passports. Adults will, however, need both proof of identity and proof that their passport is being processed. Children will just need proof that the passport is being processed -- proof you can download at www.travel.state.gov.

With a bit of luck, this latest move could also help those going to other countries: If people who no longer need a passport for their trip can chill, it will free up State Department personnel to help those with an imminent trip where a passport is still required.

One more plea that the State Department would like to pass on: If your trip is not scheduled to occur within 14 days, please don't jam up the phone lines, delaying help getting to those with trips coming up soon.

By Cindy Loose |  June 8, 2007; 3:00 PM ET  | Category:  Cindy Loose , K.C. Summers , Passports
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What a mess...When I applied for a passport 3 years ago, it took nearly 4 months for me to receive it. I am 55 and was born at home so had no birth certificate.(I do have a drivers license, social security card, etc.) My High School & COllege diplomas were not enough proof. THANK GOD, I had an uncle still alive who was present when I was born. It took a notariezed statement from him to finally secure my passport. I find it hillarious that my son applied and recieved a passport in 3 weeks. If I don't exist, how can he??? To all of those waiting, my sympathies.

Posted by: Mary | June 8, 2007 5:48 PM

We applied for a passport for our son February 10 but still haven't received it. (State cashed our check VERY promptly, though!) Our flight is scheduled to leave June 25. Fortunately, we are going to Canada, and my husband and I already have valid passports. If we had planned to go to some other country, I don't know what we would do!

Posted by: Summer Traveler | June 8, 2007 10:46 PM

My girl and I applied for passports the second week of February; they showed up the first week in May. Not too bad, all things considered, especially since my last one was stolen in Cancun way back in '97. Fortunately our London trip isn't for another month yet.

Posted by: Adam | June 8, 2007 11:49 PM

We recently went on a trip to visit family in the UK. My wife had never a passport, so she applied for one for expidited service. After checking online with no indication of receiving, once in the two week window she called, and waited twice for 45 minutes and an hour w/o only to hang up in frustration. 5 days before the trip she finally got a person, who said the are processing it, and to call back tomorrow. Just what you want to hear after your two previous phone call experiences. She calls back the next day and they tell her its ready and ask if she wants to pick it up (instead of mailing it). She says okay. Goes down on Friday, waits in line at 11AM for an hour, then gets to the window to have them tell her they already mailed it. She's now at the point of losing it. But wait, it gets better. She call again to check on status. She then finds out it was mailed at 2PM (after she was at the window). Then they tell her it was shipped regular mail (when she had paid for express throught he post office). Well, luckly it showed up on Saturday (in an express mail envelope), and we made it to UK Monday. Good luck to those still waiting...

Posted by: Andy | June 9, 2007 11:25 AM

I don't understand why people wait until they have planned a trip to get a passport? Cost of having one is about 2.5 cents perday. Renewals are quick. Why should taxpayers have to cough up extra money to fund State so people can put things off until the last minute.

Posted by: JJ | June 9, 2007 11:37 AM

Unfortunately, the recent lifting of the Passport requirement for those traveling to the Carribean is of no help to my family. The State Department has included Aruba in its current waiver; however, if you are a naturalized American Citizen those papers had to accompany your passport application, catch is to enter Aruba you also need the original naturalization papers..same for infants born in US they will need an original birth certificate, although many states have a process in place to re-issue those.

Posted by: Irene | June 13, 2007 12:08 PM

I applied for my passport 3/12, they cashed my check 4/2 and to this day I can't get a receipt. They can't find my application! Also if you are wise enough not to make permanent travel arrangements before you have your passport in your hand, you are in another kind of limbo. Now I'm out the money, the passport, and my birth certificate!

Posted by: Mary | June 13, 2007 3:30 PM

Why should taxpayers have to foot the bill for inefficient and hapless bureaucrats? You wouldn't believe the useless correspondence that has passed between the State Dept. and myself, regarding my passport!
The passport debacle is not the first evidence of the failures of our government!

Posted by: Mary | June 13, 2007 3:39 PM

I have been on the official state website to "track" the status of my passport and obtain an official notice of application. I have followed all instructions but get the blanket statement of high volume of applications are slowing the process. According to the website, this notice of application is required along with official government ID. It is indicated that my application is not in the system. Hmmm... I have called the number to get an appointment in person only to get cut off due to the high volume of calls. I applied 3 months ago for my passport. I will probably miss my trip.

Advice: have passport in hand before making plans.

Posted by: Julie | June 14, 2007 3:35 PM

To Julie, who applied three months ago for a passport and isn't getting a message that her passport is being processed----I'm pretty sure that must mean they've lost your application. They enter them into the system quickly--the current estimate is one week--and then the message should say processing. I've spoken with a guy whose application was lost, and we was getting "no record" responses. But I would give up on taking a trip, especially if you live in or around Washington or another of the 14 cities with passport agencies that handle emergency situations. If you are within 14 days of your trip, try to get an appointment. If you are within three days of your trip and can't get an appointment, go there and be prepared to wait. Meanwhile, though, you'll have to gather up your documents, birth certificate, application form etc. in the event your application was lost and you have to reapply.

Posted by: cindy loose | June 14, 2007 4:23 PM

Quick question-- I just laundered my husband's passport--in my defense he left in the pocket of a pair of pants that he put into the laundry.

It came out with the pages completely legible, including his photo, but the cover is pretty limp because the cardboard disintegrated.

We have a trip planned to Costa Rica in two weeks-- will he be able to go and use this passport?? Obviously the timing for getting a new one is terrible.

Anyone have any experience with this?
Thanks for your replies!!

Posted by: Jackie | June 19, 2007 12:08 PM

I'm going to Mexico in 2 months and I don't have my passport yet. I'm hearing different things from different people and am very confused. I was told to just hold on to my original birth certificate and use that with my ID to go on my trip. Others tell me that I should apply for a passport, which means giving them my birth certificate. What should I do?

Posted by: Jolene | June 21, 2007 7:17 PM

I'm going to Mexico in 2 months and I don't have my passport yet. I'm hearing different things from different people and am very confused. I was told to just hold on to my original birth certificate and use that with my ID to go on my trip. Others tell me that I should apply for a passport, which means giving them my birth certificate. What should I do?

Posted by: Jolene | June 21, 2007 7:17 PM

Jolene,
Apply for your passport. You can always go to the county office in the city where you were born and get an official copy of your birth certificate. Then, you can keep your original (which is probably for the best anyhow), and still give them one that is legal.

Posted by: Tori | July 10, 2007 2:18 AM

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