Passport Price Hikes May Keep You in America

With the weather as erratic as it's been lately, it sure would be nice to head to a more temperate climate in, say, Spain or Greece, or even just a few hundred miles north to Toronto, wouldn't it? All you've got to do is book a flight and get your passport in order -- but make sure you do it before July 13. Consular fees are going up -- way up -- all across the board. Enough to make you think twice about leaving our heat-plagued city.

Adults applying for their first passport will now have to cough up $135, up from $100, and renewals are now $110 when they were once $75. A $35 buck difference -- that's enough for a nice, cool movie date with yourself and an ice-cold Slurpee. Eclipse takes place in Italy, right?

Even if you already have your passport mostly in order, avid travelers who need to add more pages will soon have to pay $85 when they were once free. For that much money, you could hop on the Hampton Jitney round-trip for a day at the beach. (But the only border you'll be crossing is the Long Island Cultural Barrier.)

The Consulate claims that the fee hikes "will cover actual operating expenses for the 301 overseas consular posts, 23 domestic passport agencies, and other centers that provide these consular services to U.S. and foreign citizens."

Whatever the reason is for fees like these, our new passport photos better look like glamour shots -- and that gold lettering on the cover better have a karat value. But if these price hikes are enough to convince you to stay in the city, at least you know where to keep cool.

[awerner@villagevoice.com]


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