The Great Passport Disaster of 2007 is not unknown to people. Almost 18 million US citizens faced the impact of the disaster and were trying really hard to get their passport before the new Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative became effective. The initiative directed that no one could now use any kind of official ID for returning to the United States from any place in the hemisphere. And this included places like Caribbean, Montreal, Quebec and Mexico.
This initiative was taken to strengthen anti-terrorism measures after the ghastly 9/11 and resulted from the 2004 act of Congress. In 2007, there was flood of passport applications and things went completely haywire. Americans were bewildered, deadlines were shifted, the passport processors found themselves under huge piles of paperwork and vacation plans and traveling went for a toss.
Till that time, majority of the American population did not have a passport – to be precise, the percentage is almost 3/4th of the whole population. But with the initiative coming into effect almost everyone wanted a passport now and the thing became weirdly out of control. Because from 23rd January 2007, a passport would be needed to fly to places which could till then be accessed with an ‘official ID’.
2016 and 2017 is approaching and all those passports which had been issued at that time will come for renewal as the validity of these passports is for 10 years. It just seems a thing of recent past and time really flies. People who had got their passports in the Great Passport Disaster know the pains of getting the document. And they are apprehensive of the renewal process as well, because all those million passports will come for renewal almost at the same time. Many are anticipating a sequel of the Great Passport Disaster in 2016-2017.
If you are a holder of American passport and your validity date is till the end of 2016, it is good if you plan for your passport renewal soon enough to avoid the rush that is bound to take place. And without the passport having validity of 6 months or more, you cannot make any kind of international travel plan at all. So it is best to be safe and get the passport renewed much in advance to avoid the rush and to get things done in a smooth manner.
The State Department in USA is also highly worried about the upcoming pressure of passport renewal. Demands for passport renewals have increased in the past few years. In fact millions of new passports are being issued by the State Department annually and the numbers are surging with each passing year. To make things little easy for the passport officials, the State Department has launched the Apply Early campaign so that people can have their passports renewed in advance and there is no high rush at a particular time.
The time crunch is being anticipated to commence in 2016 and will continue for some time. As per reports from the State Department, the current waiting time for passports is 4-6 weeks, but it has the chance of going up to 10 weeks or more during that time. Not only this, there have been price hikes in the rates of charges for passports and related issues:
- New passport rate – $135 (previously $100)
- Rate of passport renewal – $110 (previously $75)
- Addition of pages – $82 (previously – free)
- Renouncing of US citizenship formally – $450 (previously – free)
The Apply Early campaign should be successful if people understand the importance of it. Usually passport turnaround time remains fastest from September to December.