(LOS ANGELES, Jan. 10, 2007) — The Automobile Club of Southern California is reminding air travelers that beginning Jan. 23, 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. 23, all American 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 take a cruise or drive to foreign destinations will not be subject to the new requirement.
"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. in the spring or summer should apply for their passport now to ensure it arrives in time."
Passport applications are available at any Auto Club office, but first-time applicants or those with an expired or lost passport cannot process their applications at the Auto Club. They must be processed in person at designated U.S. government facilities, such as select U.S. Post Office locations, 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.
Citizens who wish to either renew or apply for a new passport must submit passport photos with their application, and those also 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.
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, visit a AAA Travel professional, www.AAA.com or the State Department Web site, www.state.gov.