Passport fees are going up

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By ADAM ASHTON

Getting a passport is about to get more expensive.

According to U.S. Passport officials, total fees for getting a new passport will increase from $60 to $85 on Aug. 19. Renewal fees for adults will increase from $40 to $55.

The price hikes follow an independent study by Mitretek Systems that found the Passport Agency needs the increases to cover the costs of the technology it uses and various services provided by the State Department at American consulates, said U.S. Passport Agency spokesman Michael Silva.

The Tuolumne County Clerk's Office urged people to get passports taken care of now no matter when they plan to travel.

"They may not actually travel within the next few months, but sometime in the future, people are planning to travel," said Sue Kotarek of the clerk's office.

She said she's noticed a surge of interest in international travel since Sept. 11, though she added most people are traveling to more familiar locales like Mexico and British Columbia.

The fees are comprised of two parts, Kotarek said.

The passport fee is $45 but will increase to $55 for new adult passports while the processing fee will increase from $15 to $30 for all applicants, she said.

The passport fee for minors under age 16 will increase from $25 to $40 bringing total fees for minors to $70 including the increased processing fee.

Additional fees for expedited service will increase from $35 to $60.

Silva said the passport fee increase will provide funds for U.S. consulate services including documentation, aid to arrested Americans abroad and care for ill American travelers.

The processing fee increase will go to the county clerk offices that handle passport applications, he said.

Passports expire after 10 years for adults and after five years for minors, Kotarek said.

Applicants generally receive passports within six weeks after they visit the county clerk's office to submit paperwork, said Calaveras County Clerk Recorder Karen Varni.

11700614
The Union Democrat
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