Parkites queue up for passports | ParkRecord.com

Parkites queue up for passports

Dan Bischoff, Of the Record staff

Those who want passports, need to hurry.

"It’s taking longer to get one now," said Freddy Belch, the passport clerk at the Park City Post Office. "Everyone’s doing it at the same time. People are realizing that their passports are expiring and they need one to go into Mexico and Canada."

As of January 2007, passports were needed to fly into Mexico and Canada.

That change, however, started a chain of events that completely bottlenecked the summer rush for passports.

The decision to more closely regulate travel to Mexico and Canada was made to strengthen border security and ease entry into the United States. But, it’s made it tough on summer travel as people are trying to adjust and are looking at delays of 10 to 12 weeks for their passports.

There is record demand for passports and every day, Belch ‘s schedule is filled with appointments.

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To alleviate the passport headache, the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security announced last Friday that U.S. citizens traveling to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda, who have applied for, but not yet received passports, can temporarily fly to those locations with a government issued photo ID and a Department of State official proof of application for a passport through Sept. 30, 2007.

Children under the age of 16 traveling with their parents or guardian will be permitted to travel with the child’s proof of application. Travelers who have not applied for a passport won’t have the same luck. To obtain proof of application, go to http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/status/status_2567.html .

This does not affect travel in other countries, however. Americans traveling to a country that requires passports must still present those documents.

To obtain a passport, travelers need to make an appointment with the Park City Post Office, located at 2100 Park Ave., by calling 655-8037 between 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m..

"We are appointment only right now," Belch said. "Each appointment is 10 minutes so be prepared and have everything ready prior to coming."

Belch said people should have all the applications (which can be found at the post office) filled out. They should bring checks, money orders, two forms of ID such as a previous passport, driver’s license, the original birth certificate or a certified copy.

According to the National Passport Information Center (NPIC), "travelers need to apply in person if: applying for a passport for the first time, your expired passport is not in your possession, your previous passport has expired and was issued more than 15 years ago, was issued when you were under age 16 or if your current valid U.S. passport has been lost or stolen."

To avoid any problems, people should double check and ask for details of what’s needed before the appointment.

"Call in and check to see what you need, and make sure you have everything in before you come in," Belch said.

According to the NPIC’s Web site, at travel.state.gov/passport, it is taking up to 10-12 weeks to receive a passport from the date of application. If you are not traveling within the next two weeks, it advises people to check the status of the application online, keeping in mind it takes approximately three to four weeks for its system to start tracking an application. If traveling within the next two weeks, call or e-mail the National Passport Information Center.

There are ways to receive a passport sooner, but it’s not cheap. In addition to the regular application fees, it is another $60 per application plus overnight delivery costs.

Through the expedited service, it normally takes two weeks to receive the passport from the application date. Also, if you haven’t received your passport within a week of departure time, make sure to contact the National Passport Information Center. But, expect phone delays because of the high volume of calls throughout the country. Callers may have to dial several times before reaching a representative.

Some countries require that a passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of the trip and/or have two to four blank visa/stamp pages. Some airlines will not allow you to board if these requirements are not met, according to NPIC. If one is behind in child support payments, that person may not be able to get a passport.

If a name has changed since the last passport was issued, enclose a certified copy of the document specifying the name change, such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree, adoption decree or court order, and no photocopies will be accepted. If a name has changed by other means, that person must apply in person.

If you haven’t received your passport and are traveling within the next 7 days, please call or e-mail the NPIC, although responses may take two to four days.

Contact the National Passport Information Center by calling 1-877-487-2778. E-mial the organization by logging on to http://travel.state.gov/passport . The Web site contains lots of information regarding the "how to" obtain a passport, along with passport applications, mailing addresses, advice and safety tips.