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Thanks Hillary

passport

The State Department appears to be operating efficiently. Gail’s passport was due to expire this week, mine next month. Our plan was to renew them once Gail returned from Scotland in early April, but weeks later, our expiring passports were still in the house. So a week ago Friday we took the time to get new passport photos, fill out the forms, and mail in our passport applications.

I don’t like being without my passport for long, even if I have no specific travel plans. You never know when you might need it. And in my case, with my sister and her family in France, it’s good to know I can just get on a plane and go there if I need to. We therefore chose the expedited renewal option. The passport renewal is $75. The expediting fee is an additional $60. The guidelines are that normal renewal takes six weeks, where as expedited renewal takes three. It’s also recommended that you do next day mail delivery in sending the application to the address in Philadelphia, along with writing a check for $14.85 to cover next day return delivery. That’s what we did.

It all went out two Fridays ago and arrived in Philadelphia last Monday. The checks were cashed that very day, a good sign. And two days ago, Friday, exactly one week after we sent everything in, our new passports arrived. One week exactly. Pretty impressive.

The new passports look like the one above. The symbol near the bottom of the front cover is the Electronic Passport Logo. We received pamphlets explaining the Electronic Passport Security Features. Each “passport contains a small integrated circuit (or ‘chip’) that conforms to the latest international passport standards. This Electronic passport provides: Automated photo verification; Faster & more accurate immigration inspections; and Greater border Protection and Security.” The passport won’t need to be swiped. Instead, the information “can be read by special chip readers from a close distance.” And best of all, we can “[p]roceed to the special immigration lanes displaying the Electronic Passport Logo to be assured of the fastest and most efficient processing.”

Our first opportunity to use the new passports will be next month, when we head to Vancouver just before Father’s Day. I don’t imagine there are special Electronic Passport Logo lanes on I-5 at the border crossing in Blaine. We won’t get to test that feature for a while.

By the way, it’s a bit disappointing to realize how little I used my last passport. I got it in June 1999, having somehow let the previous one expire two years earlier. Gail, Joel, and I all got new passports then in preparation for our trip to Scotland and France in August. Then in 2004 we went back to Scotland, with a short stop in London on the way back. Other than multiple trips to Canada, that may be about it. The new passport is sure to see a lot more action.

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Categories: Government, Travel
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