(LOS ANGELES, Sept. 29, 2006) — The end of 2006 is fast approaching, and the Automobile Club of Southern California is reminding travelers that beginning in 2007, they must carry a U.S. passport to popular vacation spots that had not previously required them, including Canada, Mexico, Caribbean nations and countries in Central and South America.
As of Jan. 8, 2007, all American cruise and airplane passengers traveling to any country outside the U.S. will be required to carry a passport in order to re-enter the U.S. American travelers who drive to foreign destinations will be required to carry passports with them on their vehicle trips beginning Jan. 1, 2008.
"Typically, the U.S. State Department can take six weeks to process a passport application," said Diana Meinhold, the Auto Club's vice president for travel products and services. "These new requirements are significantly increasing the numbers of applications, so travelers could experience additional delays in obtaining or renewing passports. The Auto Club recommends that anyone planning a cruise or flight outside the U.S. early next year should apply for their passport now to ensure it arrives in time."
Passport applications are available at any Auto Club office or a U.S. Post Office, and can also be downloaded at the State Department's Web site, www.state.gov. Citizens who wish to either renew or apply for a new passport must submit passport photos with their application, and those can be taken at any Auto Club office for a fee of $8 for members and $15 for non-members.
First-time passports cost $82 for citizens less than 16 years of age, and $97 for those 16 years old and older. Passport renewal costs $67.
First-time applicants for a passport, or those with expired or lost passports, must submit their application in person to a passport processing location such as a post office during the hours that service is available. Non-expired passports can be renewed by mail by sending the application, the most recent passport and two identical passport photographs to the Department of State.
In addition to passport photos and applications, travelers can obtain a wide range of needed services at the Auto Club, including international driving permits, Mexico auto insurance, and travel insurance. AAA Travel professionals are available to help both members and non-members plan domestic and international tours and cruises at no additional charge, as well as other services such as car rentals and hotel bookings. Members receive special discounts or benefits on selected travel packages, and complimentary AAA maps and TourBooks.
For more information on international travel, review passport information, visit a AAA Travel professional or the State Department Web site, www.state.gov.