Orlando IA Launches 1st Facial Recognition Device as an Extension of the Automated Passport Control

With the increase in terrorist activities worldwide, it is quite an acceptable fact that the security system is also going to receive a hike. The modern generation is all about the computer generated things which are things that might easily be sent and received. The similar logic applies with e-passports which has been a well-accepted innovation across the world. These e-passports have given the security officials even more scope to strengthen the security system across the countries. Slowly but surely the old paper passports will certainly give way to e-passports and the modern trend has already been implemented with a lot of success primarily in the Orland IA where the first facial recognition device has already been installed and has started working since October, 2015.

Thus, Orlando IA is the first airport in America to successfully install the facial recognition system to its automated passport control (APC) kiosks. The air transport IT solutions provider of America, SITA has already announced that similar plans are in the pipeline for other airports as well. This would be easily implemented by upgrading the kiosks situated in the other airports of the country.

While most of the passengers has been welcoming this initiative over the last few months, there has been many as well who has not taken this initiative too positively as, they see this as an additional burden which makes them lose even more time to check in and out of the airport. But as per the reports of the SITA president, once implemented in a proper manner, these kiosks would certainly decrease the lines by 40%.

As per the needs of the implementation of the new technology, the US government has already issued 500 million e-passports worldwide. These e-passports will certainly possess facial biometrics while some of them also possess figure prints as an addition to these facial biometrics. According to a survey conducted among the efficient security officials, this initiative will certainly bolster the security system of the country and the new APC kiosks will certainly tighten the security system in the international airports.

SITA has already launched with a great amount of success nearly 300 kiosks in 10 different airports and as per reports; they have hundreds of them ordered in the pipeline. They are quite confident regarding the fact that these kiosks are the future of the security system worldwide and the future is quite bright. The company has already showcased the APC kiosks in the Annual ACI-NA Conference and are of the opinion that once the passengers get accustomed to the system in a proper way, it will certainly save the a lot of time to check in and out of the airports even after providing the country with options of additional security. As per other reports, Las Vegas and Miami airports are among the predecessors who are ordering these kiosks to enhance their security system among many other airports.

Another Passport Disaster Approaching – Renew Passport Soon

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.

US Embassy of China will Discontinue Adding Additional Pages to Passport from 2016

The Embassy of United States of America in China has decided not to add pages to American passports after 31st December, 2015. Hereafter, the holders would require applying for new documents for their journey after the expiry of the older ones. Although this was declared in china during a government holiday which is very surprising as it is a very important announcement, but consistent announcements, posts and reports from elsewhere confirmed the news. The US Embassy in japan was one of the pioneers in publishing the news.

As per the report of the US Embassy in Japan, “For cost and security reasons, the U.S. Department of State has begun phasing out the option of additional visa pages for U.S. passports. Beginning October 1, 2014, all Embassies/Consulates worldwide will issue only 52-page passport books for full-validity passports. The thinner
28-page book option is no longer available. Requests for additional visa pages will be accepted for existing passports only through December 31, 2015. Starting January 1, 2016, applicants who need extra pages will need to apply to renew their passports and be issued the standard 52-page book…”

This newly made regulation would certainly prove to be a problematic one for the US passport holders in the country. In the current regulation the time required to add a page to the old passport is a 20 minutes affair. But with the changed rules, once the passport is out of space, the entire document is to be renewed again and it is naturally a time consuming affair. The only breathing space is perhaps the fact that the new passports would all be of 52 pages instead of 28.

As such, people in China with the will to visit the US will have to, from now on, be even more frequent in renewing their passports along with the annual 10 day visa renewal and a calculation says that holders of 10 years China visa might find themselves in a situation where they will be 2 passports beyond the original holding the visa itself.

Common Queries Regarding US Passport – Important Questions and Answers

We all know that for traveling to a foreign land, having a passport is mandatory. And people who do not have their passports need to get them done before their international travel. Passport is one among the most important national identity documents for any person. The Department of State issues the passport to US citizens. There are many formalities that need to be completed to obtain the passport in US. Along with this, people have various kinds of queries regarding US passports. It is recommended to get answers to all the queries and questions before filling the application for getting new US passport.

1. I am planning a foreign trip with my family. Will I need passports for all members including senior citizen parents and my 1 year old toddler?

Yes, you will need passports for all members of your family before any international trip. Whether you are traveling by air, waterways or by road, having a passport is mandatory as it is your national identity document and it will prove that you are a US citizen.

2. I do not have a US passport. How and where to I make an application?

For making a new passport, you have to make an application with form DS-11, which you can download from the site http://travel.state.gov/. Fill in the application duly with all the required details and furnish the documents that are required along with the passport application fees.

3. I want my passport within few days as my travel plans have come up suddenly. What to do?

If you are in a hurry to get your new passport, you can choose expedite services for the same. Everything else remains the same; just the amount of money you need to pay will be slightly more. Usually through these services, the passport reaches the person within 7-8 days. However, there are many passport agencies offering same day services to customers, where they get their new passport within a day. The charges that they take are little higher, but if there is an emergency you can always check them out.

4. I applied for my passport few months back and there is no news regarding the same. Where can I get information?

You can check your passport application status online at http://travel.state.gov/ website. For checking the status, you will need to provide your date of birth in MM/DD/YY format, your last name and the last four digits of your social security number. On entering these details, you will be able to see the current status of your passport. The time given by the State Department for obtaining passports is based on rough estimates. It takes almost 8 weeks for passports that are processed on regular basis.

5. My passport got damaged in a fire accidentally. What do I do?

You do not need to worry about your damaged passport. As soon as your passport gets damaged, you can apply for a fresh passport by filling in the right form for the same. Submit all the required documents and also provide reference of your damaged passport along with the fee. You will have your new passport within the stipulated time period.

6. I have to visit a foreign country in the coming month and might need to stay there for some time. But my passport’s validity will be expiring in the next three months. Is it good to get the passport renewed in advance?

Yes, it is highly recommended to get your passport renewed before you go for your foreign trip. DS-82 is the form that needs to be filled up along with important documents, photos and renewal fee. If you are in a hurry, avail the expedite service of the passport agency by paying additional fee.

5 Hotspot Travel Destinations You Will Love to Be in 2015

Vacations are knocking at the door and we have started to pack our bags to move towards a possible holiday destination. After a day of hard work, to break away from the myths of life temporarily we desperately need a break and winter vacations are the ideal ice-breaker.

So if you have decided to split from your office desk for the time being, yet gasp which vacation spot can help you relax the senses, then have a look at these hotspot destinations –

Beaches – Hawaiian Islands

The dream destination for the families and the resorts of Hawaii offer ultimate relaxation and comfort. It is time to enjoy that sunshine on your face, powder-white sand between your toes, warm water all around and not a sight of the cloud. Discover the unique beach vacation with snorkeling, deep-sea diving, surfing, sailing, and kayaking if you love to embrace the sea. However, if you are a land lover rest in a lounge in the beachside cabana, with a cocktail to sip and a gentle body massage.

City – New Zealand

New Zealand is the buzzword in the travel industry and people have started it to consider as the dream destination this vacation. It is a region geographically isolated with relatively untouched wilderness. For the movie buffs, the place is going to restore great attraction as movies like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit contributed a lot to make the destination a popular pick.

Forest – South African Safari

If you want to experience something adventurous, then take a safari ride this year. And the place for a safari is no doubt South Africa. The place welcomes visitors from all over the world to their unique country to watch best wildlife safaris on offer. However, rest assured you would have a strong chance of seeing the Big Five (Elephant, Rhinoceros, Cape Buffalo, Lion, and Leopard).

Desert – Atacama Desert

This place will leave you in awe. This year, in the beginning it has snowed a lot at this place. Yes, a desert that receives snowfall. This is the world’s driest desert and the abode of thousand of cactus variety salt flats, geysers etc.

Historical – Guatemala

A colorful colonial era township with thrilling landscapes and mysterious ruins welcomes you to Guatemala in this vacation. Take a climb up the Pacaya Volcano, or head onto the mountains and villages where you can find locals wearing traditional garb. If you are an amateur archaeologist take a quick flight towards the north to visit the Mayan city of Tikal. You will find one of the most enchanting markets of Central America and watch vendors from surrounding villages transform the sleepy square into a bustling bazaar.

It is hard to decide where to go for a peaceful vacation. Moreover, you have so many hassles to take, renewing your passport to preparing your visa. However, with Passport Office you no longer need to worry about passport and visas. We make everything simple and at fingertips to let you travel peacefully to a foreign destination and restores your safety.

Get an Urgent Passport for Your Foreign Trip this Vacation

With holiday season knocking at the door, innumerable people plan their holidays and vacations at this time of the year. Various kinds of deals and discounts are on offer by different travel agencies, which make traveling to foreign destinations highly convenient. But for international traveling, having a passport is mandatory. You might make all the preparations for the travel, but realize that you don’t have a passport. What would you do in such a situation? You will need a passport urgently. There are various passport agencies that provide expedite passport services to customers. This helps in meeting emergency situations and you will have your passport in hand well before time. In fact many agencies offer same day service for passport delivery.

Services of getting a passport urgently with Thepassportoffice

We, at Thepassportoffice offer various kinds of services for obtaining a passport. There are 5 kinds of services that are offered by us – standard service, rush service, priority service, emergency service and same day service. The fees charged for the services vary from one another. However, the government fee of $170.00, which is paid to the US Department of State is constant for all the services. The other charges are as follows:

    • For standard Service – passport delivered within 8-10 business days – $89.00
    • Rush Service – passport delivered within 5-7 business days – $119.00
    • Priority Service – passport delivered within 3-4 business days – $169.00
    • Emergency Service – passport delivered within 1-2 business days – $259.00
    • Same Day Service – passport delivered the same day – $299.00

Application form fill up and documents needed for obtaining the passport

The application form for obtaining a new passport needs to be filled up duly by the candidate by providing all required data. The billing address and shipping address of the applicant has to be furnished properly so that the document can reach the person without any kinds of hassles. Constant tracking is done till the document reaches the applicant safely.

Along with filling up the application form, some documents need to be kept ready as well. They are:

  • Proof of US Citizenship
  • Proof of Identity
  • Passport Photos
  • Intention of traveling

With duly filled up application form and necessary documents in place, getting the passport urgently will not be a problem. At Thepassportoffice, best services for the customers are provided at the most reasonable rates.

Cash Passports

Cash passports (also called travel cards or prepaid travel money cards) are a simple way to manage and access your money overseas. They look and operate just like a normal bank or credit card. You can use them to make purchases or to withdraw money from an ATM, but unlike a credit card, the funds are pre-paid.

Here’s how it works: You get a cash passport in a particular currency (USD, EUR, GBP or NZD) from any Australia Post outlet, or an ANZ Travel Card from selected ANZ branches. You load some money on the card then use it anywhere overseas where Visa is accepted (over one million ATMs worldwide). If you’re running low on credit, you can reload your account online, via BPay or at currency exchange centres.

The great thing about a cash passport is you lock in your interest rate when you put cash on your card, so you don’t need to worry about the Australian dollar losing value while you’re overseas. You also aren’t charged fees for withdrawing cash (as long as you’re withdrawing in the local currency e.g. using the USD card in the USA). Plus, you can reclaim any unused funds when you return home, or reuse your card the next time you travel within its three year validity period.

There are plenty of other benefits: they’re easy to obtain (you don’t need a bank account and you don’t have to be over 18) and unlike traveller’s cheques, there is no need to carry ID or find a bureau de change.

For security, the card is PIN protected and you can get a second back-up card free so you won’t be inconvenienced or delayed if one of the cards is stolen or misplaced.

Just like a credit card, you’re also entitled to customer support 24 hours a day to deal with lost or stolen cards and passports, medical emergencies, legal assistance, interpreter services, sending messages home and access to emergency funds.

A cash passport is a good idea for any traveller, even if it’s only an emergency backup.

Cameron Price-Austin runs http://thepassportoffice.com – an Australian consumer credit card site featuring articles, reviews, tools and forums.

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US Passport Renewal

Compared to getting a new passport, renewing an expiring passport is a relatively simple affair. However, since it’s not something you have to do often, it’s common to have questions about the process. When it comes to getting a US passport renewal, here are some of the most common questions people ask, along with clear, easy-to-understand answers.

 

When Should I Apply for My US Passport Renewal?

 

Passports issued to adults over the age of 16 are valid for 10 years. According to the State Department, the best time to renew your passport is about nine months before it expires. That may seem like overkill; after all, nine months is the better part of a year, and shouldn’t you get the ten years you paid for?

 

However, if you travel overseas with any frequency at all, it’s a good idea to follow the Department of State’s advice. Many countries won’t allow you to enter if your passport has less than 6 months to go before it expires, and applying for your US passport renewal nine months beforehand allows plenty of time to get the new passport issued before you start to run up against that six month limit.

 

Where Do I Renew My Passport?

 

Most people are eligible for US passport renewal by mail. You can renew by mail as long as all of the following statements are applicable to you:

 

Your current US passport is still in your possession and has not been lost or stolen.

Your current passport is in good condition.

Your current passport was issued after you turned 16.

It has been less than 15 years since the passport was issued.

If your name has changed since your last passport was issued, you are able to send legal documents that support your name change request.

What Documents Do I Need?

 

To apply for a passport renewal by mail, you’ll need to send the following documents to the Department of State:

 

A completed copy of renewal application form DS-82

Your current passport

One passport photo

Where applicable, legal documents such as a marriage certificate or a divorce decree to back up any name change requests.

Money to pay the fees.

 

How Much Will It Cost?

 

If you’re applying for only the standard passport book, you’ll pay an application fee of $ 110.

At just $ 30, the passport card may seem like a bargain, but keep in mind that you can’t use it for international air travel at all. It can only be used for land and sea travel to the following regions: Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. If you want both a passport book and a passport card, you’ll pay $ 140.

 

How Long Will it Take?

 

Processing times vary seasonally depending on the Department of State’s workload. However, it usually takes about 6 weeks for a US passport renewal request to be completed. You can apply for expedited service by paying a $ 60 expedite fee in addition to your application fee and writing “Expedite” on the envelope. Expedited applications are generally processed within three weeks. For emergency passport renewals, you can make an appointment at one of 25 regional passport agency offices across the country by calling 1-800-209-4565.

 

Alison Kroulek is a freelance writer and blogger with a focus on the travel industry.

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