Important New Passport Requirements

The United States government recently announced a new passport initiative to better secure America’s borders. January 1, 2008 is the deadline for all travelers, but they have instituted a phased-in timeline for U S Citizens.

  • December 31, 2006 – Requirement applied to all air and sea travel to or from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.

  • December 31, 2007 – Requirement extended to all land border crossings as well as air and sea travel.  

    This means that a short 3 day cruise to Mexico that only requires a birth certificate or a quick day trip to Mexico or Canada that only requires a drivers license now, will require a passport after December 31st 2006

    For more information and links to passport applications click Here

    New Passport Photo Service

    Smart Set Travel is offering the following passport photo service for new or renewing passports:

    OUR CLIENTS: We are offering passport photos for our current clients at no cost.  We would like to invite you to come in to the our agency at your convenience. In a matter of moments we can take your picture, and get an application for new or renewal passport underway. Whether you are planning a trip in the near future or not, please come in and see us so we can provide you this service. Besides, it's always nice to visit in person, with a good client.

    NON CLIENTS: We are offering a passport photo service for anyone that is not our client. The cost is $10.00 and you will receive a certificate good for $10.00 that can be used at Smart Set Travel toward any trip within 1 year. Please come in and see us so we can provide with this service. We look forward to meeting you.

    Passport Photo Tips

    Do NOT to wait until the last month prior to travel to apply for their passports. A good rule of thumb would be to apply no less than two or three months prior to travel.

    Keep in mind passport centers have a busy season. Their busy seasons generally start around April and continue through the summer.

    Read the instructions carefully and supply ALL required supporting documents. For example, if the passport instructions ask for an original birth certificate, naturalization certificate, etc., those are the documents that must be supplied. If not, you will receive a letter from the passport center requesting those documents before your application will be processed.

    Enclose good quality passport photos that will be acceptable with their applications. Some things to keep in mind are:

  • A white background is needed. Do not wear white clothes for this picture - who wants to see a floating face?

  • Make sure your eyes are visible if you wear eyeglasses. 
  • Do not cover your head. If you must cover your head for religious reasons,  provide a statement stating these reasons and send it along with your      application.

  • Do not wear a uniform.

  • Logos should not be visible on clothing.

    Passport Costs

    The cost of travel continues to rise and the cost of passports is no exception - a $12 security surcharge went into effect March. Within the next few months, we should see the debut of the new electronic passport, designed to help prevent passport theft and fraud.

    These will contain an electronic chip with the same information you see printed on the inside of the passport booklet. The passports will also feature protection for the chip so that it cannot be altered.

    If you currently have a valid passport, you will not need to replace it with an electronic one until the scheduled expiration date.

    Current total cost of passports is as follows:

  • DS-11, ages 16 years and above (initial passport application) - $97;

  • DS-11, under age 16 - $72;

  • DS-82, renewal by mail - $67;

  • To expedite passport - $60.

  • A passport is good for 10 years

  • Remember: Without a travel agent, you're on your own