Passports Hard To Come By For Summer Travelers - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

6/1/07-Tyler

Passports Hard To Come By For Summer Travelers

It's a new travel requirement that's causing major headaches for those trying to go on vacation.  At the beginning of the year, the federal government made it a requirement to have a passport in order to leave the country by air. That includes Mexico and Canada.  If an international trip is part of your summer plans, you'd better hurry.

Angry, frustrated and puzzled, thousands of Texans want to know where their passport is. In Houston this week, the line at the passport agency wrapped around the federal building.

"Very frustrating," said Kissy Stanley, who is waiting on her passport.  Kissy Stanley of Flint leaves for Cancun in 12 days.  Her passport is somewhere between Houston and home.

"You can't talk to anyone," said Stanley. "Nobody will return your phone call.  You can't get through to anyone, so you're in limbo. You don't know if your passport will arrive tomorrow, or if it will be three months." Kissy and her husband applied for their passports 12 weeks ago.  They were told it would only take 10 weeks.   It's a problem, travel agents say several of their clients are experiencing.

"Normal processing time for a new passport application is somewhere from two to four weeks, and we have clients reporting to us that they have passports submitted up to 16 weeks and still do not have them back," said Travel Masters President Sharon Howell. Instead, Sharon Howell of Travel Masters in Tyler says they are having to turn away people wanting to travel this summer.

"We had a couple come in this week, and they wanted to plan a trip to Italy, and the first thing my consultant asked them, do you have a valid passport and the answer was no, and we had to gingerly tell them, probably won't go to Italy this summer," said Howell. As for Kissy, she says she wants the government to take a little more responsibility.

"They made the law," said Stanley. "They should have been a little more prepared to handle the overload."   The U.S. Department of State says in the last seven months more than 8 million Americans have applied for passports. That's a more than 30 percent increase from last year. The government also says its opened additional processing centers to help meet the demand, but suggests not making travel plans until you have your passport.

The passport requirement will expand next year to those traveling out of the country by land or sea. For more information on passport requirements and how you can apply for one go to our homepage and click on the Know More On 7 link.  There you will find Passport Requirements.

Molly Reuter, Reporting mreuter@kltv.com

 

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