March 19, 2007

CRAPO URGES EARLY PLANNING ON PASSPORTS

Summer travel and increased demand have slowed processing

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, in response to State Department reports of large increases in the number of Americans seeking passports for the upcoming summer travel season, is helping to alert the public of a backlog in processing travel documents by the Department. Although the Department is trying to ease the problem, Crapo is urging Idahoans to plan ahead because obtaining a passport now could take two months when past practices allowed for passports to be processed within a shorter period. Nationwide, applications are up 46% over the same period last year."There is a difference between air travel and land and sea travel," Crapo noted. "Americans still do not need a passport to travel by land or sea to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, but they will need a passport to travel by air. The State Department is increasing the number of people able to process applications more quickly. Those experiencing extreme problems can, as always, contact my office for assistance."Crapo said the State Department was not originally prepared for the sharp increase in applications, which have skyrocketed to more than one million per month by some accounts. But he notes most Idahoans seem to be planning ahead for and obtaining their passports well ahead of trip deadlines. "It is more important than ever to plan ahead for travel that requires a passport," Crapo said. "At the same time, it is important to know the rules of when passports are needed and when they may not be required."The State Department has issued the following advisories:â?¢Even expedited passport requests take about one month to complete; routine time for passports is currently ten weeks.â?¢Fill in optional questions asking for departure dates and destinations on your applicationâ??it will help speed the application process.â?¢Use on-line information before trying the telephone for service. The State Department's consular affairs web site is http://www.travel.state.gov. The telephone number is 1-877-487-2778.# # #