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Passport Day on March 28: Travelers face new requirements

The race is on to get a passport before June.

That's when the government will begin requiring the document to travel to some popular vacation spots.

Most travelers know they need a passport to venture internationally. But in the past, some destinations have been exceptions to the rule. Passports were not needed to go to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the 17 Caribbean nations. Documentation of one's citizenship and identity, such as a driver's license and birth certificate, was once sufficient to allow travel to these destinations.

Federal Way is participating in national Passport Day. Federal Way City Hall will be open Saturday, March 28, to accommodate residents who wish to apply for a passport.

Changes

On June 1, a passport or other government-approved documentation will be necessary to travel abroad and to all U.S. sea ports and land borders.

The new requirements are part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. The initiative resulted from the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, and is designed to strengthen the United States' border security as well as ensure anyone entering or re-entering the country is a citizen or a legitimate visitor, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Citizens can apply for either a passport book or passport card. A book is required to travel by air internationally. Regardless of where the passport is obtained, it costs $75 for adults and $60 for juveniles 16 and under.

A passport card can be used to travel by vehicle or water vessel to U.S. land borders and sea ports, including Mexico, Canada, Bermuda and the Caribbean region. This documentation costs $20 for adults and $10 for juveniles 16 and under. A $25 processing fee is required for either passport option; this payment must be separate than the passport payment.

Generally, either a passport book or card will arrive within a month's time, said Tina Piety, Federal Way administrative assistant.

However, those interested in receiving a passport in half that time have the option to pay a $60 fee for expedited service.

The process to apply for a passport book or card can take anywhere from five to 30 minutes, Piety said. An application must be completed. Additionally, a driver's license — or other proof of citizenship — and birth certificate are required. A passport photo is also necessary. The city does not offer this service, but many drug stores do along with Costco and some U.S. Postal Service offices.

If you go

• The city is unsure how many applicants to expect at the one-day event, and urges those interested in getting either a passport book or card to come early. Federal Way City Hall will be open for this service from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 33325 8th Ave. S.

• The Maleng Regional Justice Center's Licensing Office, 401 4th Ave. N. #1A in Kent, is also open for passport services from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, March 28. Contact the center at (206) 205-7330 for more information.

• To learn more about passports, visit the U.S. Department of State Web site at http://travel.state.gov/.

• To download a passport application prior to visiting City Hall, visit http://travel.state.gov/passport/forms/ds11/ds11_842.html.

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