The column below appeared in today’s Wall Street Journal.
A point I noticed is that travelers to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda need to make sure to take their receipts showing that they had applied for passports. So, don’t head for one of these places with birth certificates, picture IDs, and forget to take your passport receipt.
Frustrated travelers who paid an extra $60 to get their U.S. passports expedited and still had to wait for them can now get a refund from the government.
The decision to refund the money, disclosed in a State Department document sent to members of Congress, represents the latest effort to come to grips with a massive backlog in passport applications that has ruined or delayed summer vacation plans for thousands in the U.S.
The delays were largely due to a new rule that requires U.S. citizens to have passports when flying to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. Last week, the government announced it was suspending that rule until September, as long as travelers to those countries carried a receipt showing they had applied for a passport.
The passport delays were so bad that many of those who paid for faster service, at a cost of $60 plus the regular processing fees of $97 for a new passport, didn’t receive their passports within the expected 14 days. Some who paid extra waited a month or more.
Passport applicants who paid for expedited service but did not get it should send written refund applications to the State Department’s refund office in Washington. They should provide their passport numbers, if available, their names, dates and places of birth, the approximate dates they applied for the passports, as well as mailing addresses and phone numbers.
I guess all those who have lost thousands of dollars of non-refundable airline fares and hotel bookings can take solace in the fact that they will at least get their $60 back. But when? And at the cost of going through how much red tape? I’m going to send this post to my DIL (you would think she would waiting with baited breathe for each new post of mine, but, alas, as we who have children all understand, we’re never prophets in our own countries), and I’m sure she’ll hop on it and try to get her money back. I’ll keep everyone posted as to what happens.