New rules for travel

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 2, 2006

Passports needed for crossing borders by cruise ship

By Cassandra Mickens

The Selma Times-Journal

Email newsletter signup

Planning a holiday cruise to Mexico or the Caribbean this winter?

Well, don’t forget your passport.

Beginning Jan. 8, 2007, new federal government rules require all travelers by sea to carry passports, according to the Dallas County Probate Office. Previously cruisers only needed a driver’s license and birth certificate, said Probate Clerk Suzanne Ingram.

The new rules – implemented by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to protect domestic borders from terrorists – also apply to air travel to or from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda. Passports aren’t required for those crossing Canadian or Mexican borders by car until Jan. 1, 2008, when the rules will be extended to land border crossings.

In a USA Today report, Rick Webster, a vice president for the Travel Industry Association said the new requirements could “wreak havoc” on cruise lines that rely on last-minute bookings to fill ships. Currently Webster is leading an effort to delay the new rules until 2009.

“People are accustomed to carrying passports when they fly,” Webster said. “Cruising is an entirely different situation. “We’re very concerned about the impact.”

Ingram said 100 to 150 Dallas County residents apply for passports annually. Passport applications are available at the county probate office or online at Effective March 8, 2005, passport fees are $97 for adults and $82 for children under 16 while passport renewals are $67. Ingram said the new rules will not affect passport costs, all of which are non-refundable.

“We’ve not had any indication from passport services that prices are going to go up,” she said.

Passports expire after 10 years for adults and five years for children 15 and younger. In addition to the required fees, Ingram said passport applicants are required to bring a certified copy of their birth certificate, two identical passport photos that can be obtained from Wal-Mart’s photography studio and a driver’s license to the probate office.

Ingram said passports are usually delivered within six weeks. However, applicants may expedite the service for an additional fee.

For more information, call (334) 876-4830.