(LOS ANGELES, June 13, 2007) — A backlog of passport applications has caused the U.S. State Department to ease passport requirements for travelers flying to certain foreign countries, but travelers must still carry proof of citizenship such as an original birth certificate, as well as proof that they have applied for a passport, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.
From now through Sept. 30, 2007, air passengers without passports who are traveling to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda need to carry:
- An original or certified birth certificate
- Official proof from the U.S. State Department that the traveler has applied for a passport (this document is called U.S. Passport Application Status)
- A government-issued photo identification
The Auto Club recommends that passport applicants visit the State Department web site at www.state.gov where they will receive instructions about how to track their passport application and print out their U.S. Passport Application Status, which will contain a unique "locator number." This printout must be used to depart and return to the United States.
"The easing of these requirements is good news, but even those who have proof of applying for a passport won't be able to get on a plane to these destinations without their certified birth certificate," said Diana Meinhold, the Auto Club's vice president for travel products and services. "This has caused problems for some people because they already submitted their birth certificate with their passport application, and now they must get another certified birth certificate if their passport has not yet arrived and they want to fly to one of these countries. If a traveler does not live near his or her birthplace, it can take some time to get a birth certificate."
As of January 2008, all American cruise and driving passengers traveling to any country outside the U.S. will also be required to carry a passport in order to re-enter the U.S.
"For people who don't have access to a computer or the Internet, the Auto Club recommends seeking a computer with Internet access at a local public library," added Meinhold.
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 State Department.
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 at AAA.com, visit a AAA Travel professional or the State Department Web site, www.state.gov.
The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest affiliate of the AAA, has been serving members since 1900. Today, the Auto Club's members benefit by roadside assistance, insurance products and services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing, buying and financing programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's Web site at www.AAA.com.