Get Your Passport Now; Hikes on the Horizon
By Colleen Chen, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Passport services for the U.S. State Department said the price for passports could go up as soon as April. They launched a public comment period in February which ended last week. The proposed hikes increase prices as much as 35 percent.
Bob Reichert of Sunshine Travel in Oklahoma City was shocked to learn of the proposed hikes.
"For me not to have heard about this and the opportunity to comment speaks volumes to the lack of information available," said Reichert.
|Passport Services||Current Fees||Proposed Fees|
|Passport Book||Age 16 +||$100||$135|
|Passport Book||Under 16||$85||$105|
|Passport Card||Age 16 +||$45||$55|
|Passport Card||Under 16||$35||$40|
|Passport Renewal||Age 16 +||$75||$110|
|Passport Visa Pages||All||$0||$82|
The public comment period was published in Federal Register and a small link was placed on the government's passport information Web site.
"Anything that takes money out of the pockets of our travelers and puts it in the government's I'm against," Reichert said.
Most of those in line getting passports during Spring Break had no idea they were beating a potential price punch. Wendi Ramsey, who spent Spring Break getting her family passport ready, said she hadn't heard about the proposal.
"I'm glad to hear we're getting it before it's going up. With five kids that can add up really fast," said Ramsey.
"We've been wrestling with this for a while because clearly in a time of economic recession and when the travel industry itself is suffering, we did not want to do anything. Unfortunately, the numbers are the numbers and we are not in a position to run a deficit," said Brenda Sprague, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Passport Services.
An 18 month long cost services study showed current passport fees don't cover the cost of issuing passports.
"We are completely fee funded. This isn't your grandmother's passport document. It's a much more sophisticated process and documents," Sprague added.
Both Sprague and Reichert say anyone thinking about traveling in the near future should get their passports as soon as possible in order to avoid paying extra.
"The earliest we would see fee change is the second half of April. It probably won't be before May. It is soon," said Sprague.
The state department is reviewing the comments from the public comment period that ended March 11, but expects the Office of Management and Budget to approve the hikes without changes.