Save 50% On Your Passport Application?
Last year's plan making a passport required for all international travel created a frenzy of applications for the document and sent the issuing system into gridlock. The result was a delay of the plan but it is still set to take effect by June, 2009.
This means that you will be required to present a passport, which now costs $97 for an adult and $82 for a child, in order to re-enter the United States. If you are planning a family vacation abroad this could mean a substantial additional cost.
However, if your travel plans involve a border crossing via land (to Canada or Mexico, for example) or sea (like a cruise to the Caribbean), then you may be able to take advantage of a new option, almost 50% cheaper. The new passport card is a wallet sized ID imprinted with a RFID chip. If all goes to plan, the cards will be available in February at the price of $45 for adults and $35 for children. If you are an adult in need of a passport renewal, the card will cost only $20.
Again, the passport card is only valid for land and sea border crossings. If you are a family planning a road trip to Canada, a cruise to the Caribbean, or if you live in a border region and make frequent crossings, this could provide real savings.
I should point out that this card is not without controversy. Many people argue that it will weaken border security and endanger card holder's privacy. The U.S. Department of State argues that the RFID technology poses no threat to passport holder's privacy.
Whether you choose to apply for the traditional passport booklet or the new card, make sure you give plenty of time for processing. Expediting the application process is possible, but not something you want to have to do. Also, a sure way to save $7-$10 on any passport or visa application is to take your own photos.
For more information on the passport card, check out this overview from the LA Times.