Delay in New Passport Rules

As of Jan. 8, 2007, passports will be required for almost everyone entering the United States through airports, no matter where they are coming from, although changes in the rules for travel by land or sea have been delayed until June 1, 2009, the New York Times reports. This means that passengers on cruise ships entering the U.S. from the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada will not need passports yet not will people crossing land borders. The State Department estimates that 73 percent of Americans now lack passports. The fee to acquire one is $97 for adults and $82 for children under 16. Demand for passports could increase to 16 million in the 2007 fiscal year, beginning today, from about 12.3 million in the year that ended Sept. 30. To help handle the work, the government has hired about 250 new employees and added some new locations where people can file applications, bringing the total to more than 8,000. But the few federal centers where the applications go next—for the actual processing—have already been struggling just to keep up with a steady increase over the last few years.