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MercuryNews.com

 

January 30, 2008

 

By Jane Engle

 

 

Higher fees, stricter rules for passports start this week

 

 

The cost of getting a passport will hit $100 starting Friday. The increase is one of a series of changes this week that affect U.S. citizens traveling outside the country.

 

Saying it needs more money "to cover the cost of providing efficient and secure passport services," the U.S. State Department said Tuesday that it was raising passport fees from $97 to $100 for adults and from $82 to $85 for children younger than 16. It said renewals, now $67, will cost $75.

 

In another change that takes effect Friday, both parents will be required to appear in person - or one parent in person with required documentation - when applying for a passport for a child younger than 16. The current cutoff is age 14. The change is aimed at protecting children from abduction and "to address concerns regarding runaway children," the State Department said.

 

Starting Friday, the State Department expects to have new forms for downloading from its Web site, www.travel.state.gov, that can be used to apply for passports and a new passport card, said assistant spokesman Cy Ferenchak. The passport card, expected to be issued in the spring, is a less expensive document that will be accepted for certain border crossings by land or sea.

 

Ferenchak said the new forms had been sent to thousands of passport acceptance facilities, such as post offices, throughout the United States.

 

In another change, starting Thursday, the government plans to end what it calls "the routine practice of accepting oral declarations alone at land and sea ports of entry." That means U.S. citizens will be expected to present at least a birth certificate, or other proof of citizenship, plus a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, to return to the United States by land or sea.