The U.S. Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires that by January 23, 2007, travelers to and from Canada, Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama and Mexico must have a passport to enter or re-enter the United States.
A passport is an internationally recognized travel document verifying the identity and nationality of the bearer. A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave most foreign countries. Currently, a birth certificate and valid drivers license are all that is required to travel within the Western Hemisphere (Canada, Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama and Mexico).
This procedure is scheduled to change January 23, 2008 for land entry and January 23, 2007 for air and sea entry into the U.S. On those dates, it will be required by the United States Government that everyone (even its citizens) entering the United States be required to show a valid passport.
Passport fees are $97, excluding the cost of a passport photograph, and a passport is good for 10 years. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue or verify United States passports. The Department of State designates the United States Postal Service to accept passport applications on its behalf. The USPS will only accept cash, checks or money orders – credit cards are not accepted.
You must apply in person if you are applying for a U.S. passport for the first time; if your expired U.S. passport is not in your possession; if your previous U.S. passport has expired and was issued more than 15 years ago; if your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under 16; or if your currently-valid U.S. passport has been lost or stolen. Both parents must be present for a minor to obtain a passport unless the minor has a notarized written consent from the unavailable parent. If no ID is available, both parents can vouch for the minor’s identity (Form DS 3053 - The Statement of Consent or Special Circumstances is available from the Department of State website).
For further information on obtaining a passport, accessing forms or finding a list of places that accept passport applications, go to the U.S Department of State Web site.
For passports for children under 16 years of age click here.