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Insta-CoGo: Ready for Passport Cards?

Cindy Loose

The U.S. State Department has just issued the initial rule that will lead to the creation of passport cards, as opposed to the existing passport books. A passport or the new passport cards will be needed when crossing the U.S. border into Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean at some point in the future -- Congress and the Department of Homeland Security are arguing about exactly when that new requirement will go into effect.

Cruise lines, Caribbean tourism officials and citizens who live near borders with Canada and Mexico were among the most vociferously opposed to the requirement for a passport for travel in the Western Hemisphere. The passport card, which is cheaper and easier to carry because of its smaller size, was the compromise.

The ink on the rules is barely dry, and already there are complaints.

Here's why: A passport card will cost $45 for adults, $35 for kids. (Adults who already have a passport can get a passport card for $20, the amount they'll also pay for renewals after 10 years.) Some argue that's still too much. Others, noting that the fee doesn't cover the cost of consular services the State Department might have to render to someone overseas, say it doesn't cost enough.

Then there are those who worry that the so-called "vicinity read" radio-frequency ID chip will compromise personal data, even though it comes with a protective sleeve and transmits a number that won't be meaningful unless you have access to Homeland Security databases.

Some Native Americans complain that the card undermines their right to determine how to document and identify the citizenship of their own groups. And Washington state officials argued before the rule was even made that enhanced driver's licenses would be the best thing for citizens to use at border crossings.

I say thanks to the State Department for trying to please everyone, but really, border crossing security should be the paramount issue and goal of Congress. Maybe there's something I don't know, but seems logical that a single document would be better than a bunch of documents -- and if it costs $100 to produce a passport, then so be it. If you can afford a Caribbean cruise, you can kick out an extra $100 for a passport good for 10 years.

By Cindy Loose |  January 10, 2008; 7:28 AM ET  | Category:  Cindy Loose , Insta-CoGo , Travel Logistics
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Your last sentence says it all, I think. I can't understand the arguments that passports "cost too much" (or even that they are too difficult to carry - sorry everything isn't the size of a credit card - get over it).

Considering that passports are valid for a decade, I think they're a bargain. And I like my different customs stamps!

Posted by: Chasmosaur | January 10, 2008 11:24 AM

I seond Chasmosaur! I love looking through al my old passports and remembering my favorite trips (I even like remembering the few disasters!) I'll probably get flamed for this even though I say it with a wink, but cruisers aren't REAL travelers. They're travelers-lite. ; )

Posted by: Karen | January 10, 2008 11:38 AM

However, what about the people who need their passports not for exotic cruises, but people who live on the border and cross to shop, visit family, or even work. Those are the people who are going to be most impacted at both our Northern and Southern border.

Posted by: Virginia | January 11, 2008 11:11 AM

Um...then you send in an application for a passport (expedite it if you feel necessary), and you have the necessary document for 10 years.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | January 11, 2008 11:14 AM

Wait, so will I have to have a card to go to Canada or Mexico? Will my normal passport not suffice?

Posted by: Liz | January 11, 2008 11:40 AM

No, don't panic---a passport is the be all and end all. If you have that you're good to go anywhere in the world except Cuba, which the U.S. government has pretty much made off limits to Americans. The passport card is instead of a passport, created because of complaints that the passport was too expensive.

And yes, I understand that people who live near the border and shop and visit family on the other side were those most vocal against the need for a secure document. But what's the option--continue to allow people to cross based on their statement that they are U.S. citizens? Make everyone in the nation pay for those who choose to leave the country? I don't think so, and while I understand that $100 for a passport is alot for some people, I feel it's the cost of having security, and given a passport is good for ten years, that comes out to $10 a year. People have had since Sept. 11, when it became clear that we need to know who's coming and going, to save up.

Posted by: cindy | January 13, 2008 9:44 PM

If you want to cross borders, get a passport. If you don't want to get a passport, don't go out of the country. End of conversation.
If you can afford to go, you can afford a passport at the cost of a few dollars a year.

Posted by: PB | January 16, 2008 5:13 PM

I see from PB and other posters that I'm not the only hard butt on this issue. I just think that various options, including a card and other things being considered, have the potential to create confusion, and thus danger. It's incredible that years after 9/11, we're still allowing people into the country based on their verbal assurance that they are U.S. citizens, and are proving their identity through some I.D. a kid could create. And not only that, but Congress is still stammering and stuttering about when solid identity should be required for land crossings. Sure, those trying hard enough can find a way in. By the same token, anyone determined enough can also break into my house or car, but I still lock the doors, and I'm confident that helps.

Posted by: cindy loose | January 16, 2008 6:47 PM

I didn,t see my daughter(18 y.o.) 12 yeras. TRAGEDIA! She lives & learns in California. Along. Ab 26.09.03 I cann,t get new 5-th! Travel passport anywhere:
police &churchs & people provoziruiut & compromentiruiut me permanently. I am ~Moscow now. Please, help OUTgoing:include in foreign group or get new Travel passport
of MID(wich Travel agency help me?).

Posted by: Zoya Seliverstova | January 18, 2008 3:28 AM

Zoya--So sorry, but this forum has no power to help in a complicated case like this. I presume you've already thought about your daugther coming to see you? If this is a parental abduction case, where you daugther was brought here without your permission by her father years ago, you need to investigate the Hague Convention on International Parental Child Abduction.

Posted by: cindy loose | January 18, 2008 2:18 PM

Posted by: HsvsRsvsesv | April 18, 2008 8:18 PM

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