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Backlog puts passport requirements on hold

Dan Grech Jun 8, 2007


MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Earlier this year, the State Department began requiring people flying from the U.S. to Canada, Mexico and the Carribbean to have a passport. In the past, a driver’s license was sufficient.

The State Department expected a lot of passport applications — but not nearly as many as it’s received, causing it to put the new rules on hold for now. From the Americas Desk at WLRN, here’s Marketplace’s Dan Gretch.

DAN GRETCH: The State Department added 200 agents and opened a brand-new processing center to handle the additional passport requests.

It wasn’t enough. All 18 passport offices are working overtime, and still the applications pile up. New passports can take up to three months. That could ruin people’s travel plans.

Cathy Keefe is with the Travel Industry Association. She says the situation could get worse. Next year, people traveling by car to Canada or Mexico will need a passport.

CATHY KEEFE: And if this is happening now, with just one deadline that you need a passport for air travel, what’s going to happen come next January or February, when they enact the land border crossing — and you have millions and millions of more Americans that are going to need a passport or passcard?

The Associated Press is reporting that the State Department may waive its new passport requirement for six months as it works through the backlog.

I’m Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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