New passport rules modified for Mexico, Canada

Sunday, June 17, 2007

WASHINGTON -- If you've applied for a passport to fly to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean, but you haven't received it, here's a bit of good news.

Through the end of September, you can fly to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean without a passport as long as you can present a State Department receipt showing you already applied for one. You must also show government-issued identification, such as a driver's license. (The State Department receipt is essentially something you print out from the State Department Web site - www.travel.state.gov - that confirms the passport application is being processed.)

But Department of Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said on June 8 that the easing of the passport rule would only affect those who have already applied for passports -- not those who apply in coming days for travel later this summer.

"Individuals who have not yet applied for a passport should not expect to be accommodated," Knocke said.

The change was announced because of a backlog in processing passport applications in response to new rules implemented last January. Last year, the State Department processed 12.1 million passports. This year, officials expect to process about 18 million.

Turnaround times for passport applications now exceed three months. The backlog has ruined or delayed the travel plans of thousands of travelers.

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