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New law requires passport

February 8, 2007

With new laws being implemented, it could mean less traveling over spring break for many students. A new law passed on Jan. 23 makes it harder to travel out of the country.

According to the U.S. Department of State, beginning Jan. 23, everyone including U.S. citizens who are going to be traveling by air between the United States, Canada and Mexico, will be required to have a passport.

Also, beginning Jan. 1, 2008, persons will need to obtain a passport to travel by land or sea in addition to the already-implemented law.

The new laws could cause difficulties for students planning out-of-country, warm getaways.

A passport costs $67 to process. There is also a $30 application fee which includes a $10 fee for a photo.

The passport will be mailed to you within six to eight weeks. Roberta Mollet, a worker at the Stillwater Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), said it is recommended that people apply early for any passport.

With the new law being enforced, it makes receiving a passport a little more time-consuming.

If there is a need for a passport quickly, the process can be sped up. For an extra $30, the passport will be rush-delivered to your home. Expedited passports generally take about three to three and a half weeks to receive, but with so many people applying for passports now, it could take longer.

When applying for a passport, one will need to go to the local DMV with two photographs of themself, proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a social security card and a valid form of photo identification, according to the U.S. Department of State Web site.

DMV’s are not held responsible for how long it takes the government to send a passport to a person’s home.

Amie Dibba, a junior at UW-River Falls, said she is not going anywhere for spring break and already has a passport.

“I have had my passport for years,” Dibba said. “I think it is a good rule that they have implemented.”

Whether or not people are going to be traveling a lot or not much at all, it is a good idea to have a passport handy.

“It will help the government keep track of their own people,” Dibba said.

UWRF senior Angela Reagan recently traveled to Mexico. Getting a passport was something she said she had thought about doing for a while, but only recently went out and got one.

“It took about two to three months from the time I filled everything out,” Reagan said about getting her passport.

Traveling to Mexico with her family, Reagan said she experienced what it was like traveling with a passport.

“It makes traveling a lot easier because then you don’t need your birth certificate and license,” she said. “You just have your passport and it’s just easy.”

Billy Tait, a senior at UWRF, said he is thinking about going to Mexico for spring break. Tait has not yet gotten a passport.

“I didn’t know that it would take that long to get a passport,” he said. “I thought that they could be rushed and that we could have it within a couple of weeks.”

Now that he needs to get started on applying for a passport, Tait is going to the DMV soon.

“I have to tell my friends so they can get on top of that too,” he said.

The closest place to UWRF for someone to get a passport is either in Hudson at the Office of County Clerk or the Pierce County Clerks office in Ellsworth.

Mollet said it is necessary for people to check over their newly-purchased passports.

“There have been a lot of mistakes with typos, and each person should be aware of them when getting a new passport,” Mollet said.

When going to get a passport one should allow ample time for paperwork.

“My paperwork for my passport is already filled out because I got it offline,” Tait said.

Another tip is to arrive at the DMV at least a half-hour before they close.

On the Web site www.travel.state.gov information regarding passport renewal and any other questions one might have concerning the new laws is available.

If someone is in need of a passport very quickly, they can get a passport the same day that they apply for one. Chicago, Washington D.C. and Seattle are the only places in the United States that offer same-day passports.