Page Field postal facility to hold Passport Fair for public
If a trip to Canada, Mexico or Bermuda is in your immediate future and you do not have a passport, time is running out to make certain that trip still happens.
Starting June 1, the so-called Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative kicks into gear, making a passport, or passport card, necessary to travel to neighboring countries.
For those who are lacking in those documents, the United States Postal Service will offer a one-stop passport shop, so to speak, at the Page Field post office in Fort Myers on Saturday.
The Passport Fair will offer passport photos, processing of new passport applications, as well as passport renewals.
“The beauty of this is it’s on a Saturday when other passport offices are not open,” said Debra Mitchell, USPS spokeswoman. “We have a streamlined process.”
While applicants are not able to get their passports the same day, USPS staff will help people complete the application process and mail off all paperwork to the Department of State for processing. The USPS also will accept passport renewals this year, something it has not done in the past.
Mitchell is expecting a large turnout for the event, mirroring former passport service fairs. All passport application services are strictly on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“We have always have phenomenal turnout,” Mitchell said. “Last year we took appointments, but we had people who didn’t show up for their appointments or didn’t know they needed appointments. So this year we decided to have first-come, first-serve.”
As part of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, the travel initiative makes birth certificates and pieces of photo identification null and void when crossing international borders.
Prices for the passport for anyone over the age of 16 is $75, $60 for 16 and under, plus a $25 application processing fee.
There is a cheaper option — the passport card for $20 for those over 16 and $10 for those under 16 — that also will get across Mexican and Canadian borders, but prevents the card holder from getting off a cruise ship at ports of call. Also, passport cards are only good for traveling by land or sea, not by air.
“It’s much less expensive than a passport,” Mitchell said of the card. “But if you go on cruise and all you have is the card, you better not get off the ship.”
The Department of Homeland Security has put the initiative into affect as an answer, in part, to Sept. 11, trying to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for both legitimate U.S. citizens and foreign visitors.
For a full list of requirements and provisions of the new travel initiative, visit the Department of Homeland Security at: www.dhs.gov.
For more information on the passport fair and the passport application process, call 277-3352.