“Our customers asked for it, so we are accommodating them!” said Postmaster Mike Behringer of the Ocean View/Millville Post Office this week in announcing another local passport fair.
“Many families with school aged children are finding it harder and harder to leave work early and take their children out of school to process their passport applications. These events, though open to anyone, were planned to accommodate this growing demographic here in Ocean View and the surrounding area,” he explained.
The local post office will be hosting several special passport sessions — this time after regular passport acceptance hours.
“The recent passport fairs were so well attended that our customers asked us to hold similar events after normal acceptance hours to accommodate families with school-aged children,” said Behringer.
The Ocean View Post Office, located at 35764 Atlantic Avenue, is hosting passport fairs on Thursdays, Feb. 28, March 28 and April 18, from 4 to 6 p.m. No appointment is necessary to process applications at the special events, but the events are intended to accept first-time passport applications, and not renewals.
According to the USPS, those who are planning to travel abroad in 2019 should be aware of several things when it comes to passports:
• Check the expiration date on your U.S. passport. Many countries require that your passport have as much as six months' validity remaining for entry.
• The Department of State is expecting a surge in passport renewals this year due to millions of passports set to expire. Ten years ago, the United States passed a law requiring its citizens to have a passport for travel to all countries, including Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. The increase demand in passport renewals is anticipated to create processing delays. It may now take about six weeks for a passport renewal.
• Adding to the uptick in passport applications is travelers with state driver's licenses that don't meet requirements of REAL ID Act — a 2005 law that requires stricter standards for state-issued IDs, including driver's license.
As more states adopt the stricter standards, driver's licenses may not be adequate proof of identity to allow boarding of a domestic flight. Indiana is compliant with the law, whereas Kentucky is not. However, Homeland Security anticipates adoption of the policy at U.S. airports in the near future.
Customers have the option of applying for a passport book (good for all international travel) or the passport card (good only for land and sea travel between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda).
Passport cards cost $30 for those 16 or older, or $15 for those younger than 16. Passport books cost $110 for those 16 or older, or $80 for those younger than 16. To get both a passport book and a passport card, it costs $140 for those 16 or older, or $95 for those younger than 16.
Those fees must be paid with a personal check or money order (no exceptions). In addition to those costs, there is also a $35 processing/acceptance fee, plus a $15 fee for photos, which can be paid for by cash, personal check, debit and credit cards, or money order.
Travelers are being encouraged to apply for a passport several months before they are scheduled to travel overseas. Again, the average time for passport applications and renewals is six weeks. However, for an additional fee, the State Department will expedite the application and process it within three weeks.
To apply for a passport, travelers need to complete Passport Application Form DS-11 (unsigned) and provide one of the following: a U.S. birth certificate from the Department of Vital Statistics (not a certificate of birth) or naturalization papers. Applicants must also show either a valid driver's license, a previous or current U.S. passport book or card, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship, military I.D., or a federal, state or municipal government employee I.D. card. Applicants 15 or younger must be present with both parents unless consent is given; those who are 16 or 17 require only one parent be present.
Those who are renewing their passport may do so by utilizing the website at www.travel.state.gov and filling out the Form DS-82 (U.S. Passport Renewal Application for Eligible Individuals) and mailing the renewal directly to Passport Services. Due to the sensitivity of the documents being sent, Passport Services recommends using a trackable mailing service when submitting the renewal application.
For more information about passport application requirements and to download forms, visit the State Department's travel website at www.travel.state.gov.