A record number of people — especially newly naturalized U.S. citizens — are applying for U.S. passports, according to Ocean View Postmaster Mike Behringer. And in towns across Delaware, people are standing in long lines to apply for the prized document for themselves and their children, he said.
But the South Coastal Public Library and the U.S. Postal Service are offering an opportunity for citizens applying for their first passport. The two organizations have teamed up to announce their first passport fair, dubbed “Passport Palooza,” to help families in the coastal Delaware area obtain U.S. passports more easily.
“Adults who are first-time applicants and all children can apply early and avoid the rush often associated with the Spring and Summer travel season,” Behringer said.
The South Coastal Public Library, located at 43 Kent Avenue in Bethany Beach, is hosting this community event on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. No appointment is necessary to process applications at this special event, which is limited to first-time applicants and children, who must submit Form DS-11.
Citizens who wish to renew existing passports must still do so by mail, preferably at least six months prior to the expiration date of the existing passport, using Form DS-82.
Behringer said those planning to travel abroad in 2019 should be aware of several things when it comes to passports:
• Check the expiration date on your U.S. passport. Many countries require that your passport have as much as six months’ validity remaining for entry.
• The Department of State is expecting a surge in passport renewals this year due to millions of passports set to expire. Ten years ago, the United States passed a law requiring its citizens to have a passport for travel to all countries, including Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. The increase demand in passport renewals is anticipated to create processing delays. It may now take about six weeks for a passport renewal.
• Adding to the uptick in passport applications is travelers with state driver’s licenses that don’t meet requirements of the REAL ID Act — a 2005 law that requires stricter standards for state-issued IDs, including driver’s license. As more states adopt the stricter standards, driver’s licenses may not be adequate proof of identity to allow boarding of a domestic flight. Indiana is compliant with the law, whereas Kentucky is not. However, Homeland Security anticipates adoption of this policy at U.S. airports in the near future, Behringer said.
Customers have the option of applying for a passport book (good for all international travel) or the passport card (good only for land and sea travel between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda).
Passport fees for those 16 or older are $30 for a passport card, $110 for a passport book or $140 for a passport card and book. Fees for those younger than 16 are $15 for a passport card, $80 for a passport book and $95 for the passport book and card.
Those fees must be paid with a personal check or money order for each applicant (no exceptions). In addition, there is also a $35 processing/acceptance fee, plus a $15 fee for photos, which can be paid for by cash, personal check or money order.
Travelers are being encouraged to apply for a passport several months before they are scheduled to travel overseas, since the average time for passport applications and renewals is six weeks. However, for an additional fee, the State Department will expedite the application and process it within three weeks.
To apply for a passport, travelers need to complete Passport Application Form DS-11 (unsigned) and provide one of the following: a U.S. birth certificate from the Department of Vital Statistics (not a certificate of birth) or naturalization papers, along with a photocopy of the aforementioned documentation.
Applicants must also show either a valid driver’s license, a previous or current U.S. passport book or card, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship, military I.D. or a federal, state or municipal government employee I.D. card, along with a photocopy of that information as well. Applicants 15 or younger must be present with both parents unless consent is given; applicants ages 16 and 17 require only one parent be present.
Those renewing their passport may do so by utilizing the website at www.travel.state.gov and filling out the Form DS-82 (U.S. Passport Renewal Application for Eligible Individuals) and mailing the renewal directly to Passport Services. Due to the sensitivity of the documents being sent, Passport Services recommends using a trackable mailing service when submitting the renewal application.
For more information about passport application requirements and to download forms, visit the State Department’s travel website at www.travel.state.gov.