A record number of people — especially newly naturalized U.S. citizens — are applying for U.S. passports, according to Ocean View Postmaster Mike Behringer, who noted that in towns across Delaware, people are standing in long lines to apply for the document for themselves and their children.
But the South Coastal Public Library and the U.S. Postal Service is offering another option for citizens applying for their first passport. The two organizations have teamed up again to host a community 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 summer travel season,” Behringer said.
The South Coastal Public Library, located at 43 Kent Avenue in Bethany Beach, will be hosting the community event on Tuesday, May 14, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. No appointment is necessary to process applications at the special event. (Note that this event 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, using Form DS-82.)
According to the USPS, those who are planning to travel abroad in 2019 should be aware of several things when it comes to passports:
• Check the expiration date on the passport. Many countries require that a 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. A decade 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 increased 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 the requirements of REAL ID Act — a 2005 law that requires stricter standards for state-issued IDs, including driver’s licenses.
As more states adopt the stricter standards, driver’s licenses may not be adequate proof of the identity to allow boarding of a domestic flight, the USPS warned. Indiana is compliant with the law, whereas Kentucky is not. However, Homeland Security anticipates adoption of the policy at U.S. airports in the near future.
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 cards cost $30 for those 16 or older, or $15 for those younger than 16. Passport books cost $110 for those 16 or older, or $80 for those younger than 16. To get both a passport book and a passport card, it costs $140 for those 16 or older, or $95 for those younger than 16.
Those fees must be paid with a personal check or money order (no exceptions). In addition to those costs, there is also a $35 processing/acceptance fee, plus a $15 fee for photos, which can be paid for by cash, personal check, debit and credit cards, or money order.
Travelers are being encouraged to apply for a passport several months before they are scheduled to travel overseas. Again, 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. 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.
Applicants 15 or younger must be present with both parents unless consent is given (notarized form DS-3053 and a photocopy of front and back of non-applying parent’s ID). Those who are 16 or 17 require only one parent be present.
Those who are renewing their passport may do so by utilizing the website at www.travel.state.gov (http://www.travel.state.gov) and filling out the DS-82 (U.S. Passport Renewal Application for Eligible Individuals) and mailing the renewal directly to the 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.