If you have not applied for a U.S. passport or U.S. passport card you might want to do so soon because passport fees are expected to increase in the near future.
The fee for an adult passport book is expected to rise to $110 from $75 while the fee for a passport card would increase to $30 from $20, according to the U.S. State Department. The fee for a child’s passport book is expected to rise to $80 from $60 while the fee for a passport card would increase to $15 from $10.
The $25 acceptance fee will not change.
Although no date has been set for the increases, Cameron County District Clerk Aurora De La Garza is urging residents who plan to apply for a passport or passport card to do it soon.
“They (federal officials) can call us anytime … in five days or 10 days” to say the prices have increased, De La Garza said.
De La Garza’s office, along with the U.S. Postal Service is designated by the State Department to accept passport applications.
Federal law requires all U.S. citizens to carry a passport while flying to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda in order to return to the country. It is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. The fairly new passport requirements, directed under the 2004 Patriot Act, are part of the WHTI, whose goal is to secure the nation’s border.
In Mexico, a new law also requires U.S. citizens to have a U.S. passport if they plan to travel more than 20 miles from the United States border into Mexico. This law took effect March 1.
De La Garza’s office will sponsor a Brownsville Passport Fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, at the Cameron County Courthouse, 974 E. Harrison St., as part of National Passport Day.
Since 2007, the District Clerk’s Office has hosted 70 passport fairs throughout Cameron County.
Although appointments are preferred for Saturday’s fair, walk-ins are welcomed. De La Garza said the only reason she prefers appointments is to gauge how many employees to bring in to help with the passport fair.
Many parents took advantage of last week’s Spring Break week by bringing themselves and their children to the District Clerk’s Office to apply for U.S. passports or passport cards, De La Garza said.
The office was busy all week between 7:30 and 10 a.m. — the hours passports are processed — with residents applying for the documents.
De La Garza said Mexico’s new requirements probably played a role in the numbers of people applying for passports last week.
During March, the District Clerk’s office processed 714 passport applications — up from 676 processed in February, De La Garza said. In January 335 were processed.
Parents planning to obtain passports for their children must both be present when applying for the document, De La Garza said. Federal law requires that all parties — parents and the child — must be in attendance.
“Everyone has to be here with the children. We can make no exceptions. We have to follow the requirements from the government,” De La Garza said.
For more information on Saturday’s Passport Fair call the District Clerk’s Office at (956) 544-0838.
Adults 16 and older: Current fee $75 – Proposed fee $110 – increase of $35
Children under 16: Current fee $60 – Proposed fee $80 – increase of $20
Adults 16 and older: Current fee $20 – Proposed fee $30 – increase of $10
Children under 16: Current fee $10 – Proposed fee $15 – increase of $5
Book and Card
Adults 16 and Older – Current fee $95 – Proposed fee $140 – increase of $45
Children under 16 – Current fee $70 – Proposed fee $95 – increase of $20
Acceptance fee $25 – no change
Source: U.S. State Department