The State Department is considering several substantial passport fee hikes, including a 35 percent increase in the cost just to apply for a passport. Here's a breakdown of the proposed fee changes:
- First-time U.S. Passport Book for adults (age 16 and over): $135 (currently $100)
- U.S. Passport Book renewal (age 16 and over only): $110 (currently $75)
- U.S. Passport Book for minors (under age 16): $105 (currently $85)
- First-time U.S. Passport Card for adults (age 16 and over): $55 (currently $45)
- U.S. Passport Card for adults (age 16 and over) who currently hold a fully valid U.S. Passport: $30 (currently $20)
- U.S. Passport Card for minors (under age 16): $40 (currently $35)
- Additional visa pages: $82 (currently $0)
The government's argument is that the State Department's current set of fees "is not fully covering its costs for providing these services." This includes several recent advancements in high-tech security and anti-fraud measures for passports. In a news conference, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Passport Services Brenda Sprague said, "New technologies for use in our U.S. passport books and cards must be an ongoing priority if we are to keep one step ahead of the resourceful and technologically savvy criminals, terrorist groups, and subversive elements bent on doing our nation harm."
But according to CNN, many are worried the new fees will further discourage international travel, particularly to Canada, which is still struggling with last year's rule change requiring passports for travel to and from our northern neighbor. "We need to literally and figuratively build bridges that encourage cross border tourism, commerce and economic opportunity and this move would do just the opposite," Representative Brian Higgins, (D-NY) said.
If the fee changes do go through, the State Department is looking to implement them quickly. This means travelers may want to renew their passports sooner rather than later, even if they have a few years left. The State Department is already warning of a possible rush to renew if the fees go through, which could slow down processing times.