Your Passport Please

Passport backlogs have complicated international travel , especially during the August peak of the summer holiday season. Caseworkers in Senator Bernie Sanders' office in Burlington have received more calls for help on passport applications than on any other topic, by far.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, new restrictions were put in place. Americans soon will need to have their travel documents in order at previously open borders with Canada , Mexico and Caribbe

Passport backlogs have complicated international travel , especially during the August peak of the summer holiday season. Caseworkers in Senator Bernie Sanders' office in Burlington have received more calls for help on passport applications than on any other topic, by far.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, new restrictions were put in place. Americans soon will need to have their travel documents in order at previously open borders with Canada , Mexico and Caribbean nations. This requirement could increase border delays or discourage frequent cross-border travel.

"We have a border crossing crisis that could unhinge the Vermont economy and it's coming at us very fast," Bill Stenger, president of Jay Peak Resort, told Senator Sanders earlier this month at a Vermont Listening Session in Lyndon.

Because passport offices were overwhelmed by applications, the State Department waived the passport requirement for U.S. citizens returning from Canada , Mexico , Bermuda, or the Caribbean until September 30, 2007. Proof of a current passport application, however, is required. http://travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html

The State Department has also considered creating a "passport card" for Americans traveling to and from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean . The wallet-sized cards would be equipped with radio frequency identification technology so that they can be detected from a distance at vehicle inspection checkpoints, and could be more cost-effective than standard passports. The State Department is still thinking about whether and how to issue the cards. For more information about the proposed card, visit http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2006/74083.htm.

For information on applying for a passport, visit http://travel.state.gov/passport/.

For other information or help applying for a passport, contact Senator Sanders online at http://sanders.senate.gov or call his Burlington Office toll free from anywhere in Vermont at (800) 339-9834.