Thursday, March 4, 2010

Passport Fee Hikes Possible by April

"Proposed passport fee hikes draw ire"
By A. Pawlowski, CNN
March 4, 2010

"Get ready to open your wallet a little wider to satisfy your travel bug: It may soon cost more to apply for a new U.S. passport or renew an old one, and the news is not sitting well with some lawmakers.

The State Department is proposing fee hikes that would require adults applying for their first passport book to pay $135 -- a 35 percent increase from the current $100 fee.

(The cost of the wallet-size passport card, which Americans can use on certain trips closer to home, would rise from $45 to $55 for first-time applicants.)

Want to add more visa pages to your passport book? It's free now, but you would have to shell out $82 under the proposed fee schedule.

The renewal fee for passport books would rise to $110 -- up from the current $75.

There's even a new fee if you'd like to formally renounce your U.S. citizenship -- it costs nothing now, but the price tag would be $450 if the proposal is approved.

Officials recommended the hikes after a study found the current fee structure wasn't covering the government's costs for the services, the State Department said in the proposal outlined in the Federal Register...

The State Department intends to implement the proposed fee hikes "as soon as practicable" after it considers feedback from the public, but Sprague said the fees probably would not go into effect before April. You can weigh in and submit your comments via an online form until March 11.

You also may want to apply for or renew your passport now. The State Department is anticipating that there might be a rush of passport applications from people trying to beat any possible fee hikes and it's ready to handle it, Sprague said."

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