Changes to Air Travel Regulations Prompt Need for Passport for Sundance Vacations Travelers and More
It’s time to apply for your passport in the New Year!
A lot of travelers are being prompted to snag a passport application because of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Real ID Act, ,including a large number of Sundance Vacations travelers.
The act lays down certain compliances that all driver’s license IDs must follow to ensure they are protected from replication and can be authenticated to prove they are real.
Long story short, a couple of states aren’t in compliance, and won’t be by the deadline in January 2018, creating eminent problems for some fliers in the United States.
Let’s a look at some reasons why getting your passport early this year is a great idea instead of waiting till the last minute!
Reason 1: The Real ID Act Means You Need a Second Photo ID to Fly
Obviously this act is causing an uproar for some travelers, as seen across news outlets these past few weeks. But what does the Department of Homeland Security’s Real ID Act really mean?
This act was passed in 2005 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to reinforce security, including security while traveling.
It means that all driver’s licenses must have specific anti-counterfeit technology embedded in the card, that each state has the ability to verify your unique identity through the card and is able to complete background checks on the employees who ultimately are responsible for issuing your license to you at the DMV.
That sounds like a lot of mumbo-jumbo, but basically it requires states to update technology and procedures to verify your driver license and ultimately confirm you are you who you say you are.
Trouble is, this in an UNFUNDED federal mandate, meaning, if each state cannot afford to implement the technology or other compliances, driver’s licenses in that state will not be compliant come 2018.
To put it in perspective, Pennsylvania issued about 9 million driver’s licenses, plus almost a million and half other identification cards in 2009. Five years ago when estimates were taken, it was projected to cost $300 million to replace the cards, according to reports from Post-Gazette. That’s back in 2009, and it would obviously be more costly now.
The matter is, the nine states not in compliant are not likely to be able to afford to have the changes made before the deadline in January 2018. These states include Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Washington, according to DHS.gov.This means, travelers will be required to have a second identification that IS compliant; hence the need for your U.S. passport.
Think we’re joking? The act is already going to show tangible consequences for those not compliant by the end of this month.
Starting on January 30, 2017, a driver’s license from the nine states listed above will not be enough to grant people access into federal facilities like a military base.
Better apply for your passport now because…
Reason 2: It Takes Time to Get a Passport
First-time passport applicants need to jump through some hoops before even getting into the passport “processing” stage.
You must apply for your passport in person at your local courthouse, post office or passport agency/passport acceptance facility. While you’re there, you must have a certified birth certificate with a raised seal listing both your parent’s names in addition to your driver’s license. Chances are, you’ll need to request a sealed birth certificate because the one you have on file will be void and null.
Then you can either take the time to take a proper photo of yourself for the picture following the proper guidelines, or you’ll have to make time to have your picture taken there.
For the people who have changed their names during their life, including taking a spouse’s last name, you must present documentation of your name change such as your marriage certificate or court order.
If you don’t have any of these documents on file and have to request them, you’ll wait anywhere from two to three weeks before you even start your passport application processing, which ranges from four to six weeks.
None of this helps you if you’re in a rush for your passport.
Plus then you have to wait through the additional four to six week passport processing process unless you wanted to pay for a faster method…
Reason 3: Getting Your Passport Quickly is Expensive
Unlike a driver’s license, getting your passport isn’t free.
In addition to the $110 flat rate for the passport itself, there are other fees associated with applying for your passport.
Standard processing takes four to six weeks, and although it’s your cheapest option, it still takes a while. Expedited processing is $60 to guarantee its availability from two to three weeks after applying while expedited agency processing is the same cost and can be processed in 8 business days or less.
Then if you want to pay for overnight delivery after it’s processed; that’s an extra $20.66. Otherwise it’ll be standard shipping and you’ll have to wait even longer.
Even if you do it the slowest way possible, you’ll still need to pay a $25 “acceptance facility” fee; so the cheapest possible way to get your passport is $135 and could range upwards of over $200 with rushed urgency.
Reason 4: Your Passport Allows You to Travel Without a Visa
Here’s another good reason to get your passport!
Multiple different countries will accept a U.S. passport as a valid ID to grant you access into the country for a certain amount of days without a personal Visa.
Some countries or areas like Cook Islands will only grant you access for 30 days, while others like Canada will allow you to stay with your passport for up to six months.
If you plan on visiting somewhere abroad for an extended period of time, check up on the Visa Quick Check List to see how long you can stay with your passport.
In a sense, having your passport is like having a back-up identification card too…
Reason 5: It’s a Convenient Second ID
You could purchase an additional passport card with your passport book for $30. It’s a convenient piece of information to carry around in your wallet at all times.
This card or your passport book could be used as a second ID almost anywhere.
It’s also nice to carry with you while you travel so that you can leave your passport locked away at your hotel or suite safe and sound.
A passport card can’t be used for international travel verification at an airport, but it can be used as an ID for domestic air travel within the United States.
It can, however, be used for land and sea travel in North America including Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda.
It can also be used as proper identification for entering federal buildings and is a “List A” document that could be used for employment eligibility verification.
Point being, it’s multi-purposed and could be a convenient second form of identification.
Conclusion: Apply for Your Passport Now to Save the Hassle Later
It’s easy to push off getting your passport when it doesn’t seem like a thing you need right in this moment, however, with the Real ID act becoming a “real” problem coming early 2018, it’s best not to wait.
Save yourself the hassle and apply for your passport early in the year before all the last minute travelers inundate the U.S. Passports & International Travel bureau and you have to wait even longer.
There are many benefits to getting your passport early, so cross this off your New Year’s resolution list and stop delaying!
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