Procrastinating spring breakers hoping to hop last-minute flights to Cancun or other south-of-the-border party spots may be in for an unpleasant surprise. New federal rules require everyone flying from the United States to other countries now including Mexico and Canada to have passports.
With Cal Poly's spring break at hand, that likely won't leave enough time to apply for and receive a passport.
Even summer travelers should be applying for their passports now, San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald advised. Rodewald said her office has seen requests for passports double since before the changes took effect in late January.
She suggested travelers plan on giving themselves at least 10 weeks to obtain a passport because of a federal backlog in processing requests, thanks to a surge brought on by the new requirements.
"We've been talking to people every day that come in and think they can get one in three to four weeks they'd definitely have to expedite those," she said.
People planning to travel internationally by air sooner than 10 weeks can expedite their requests for an extra $60 on top of the normal $97 fee.
Barbara Weiss, a travel consultant who works from her Cayucos home, said she encourages all of her clients to get passports. Not only is it an internationally accepted form of I.D., the trend is toward requiring their use in more situations.
People who book their own travel might miss the new requirements, she said.
"People book their own travel, and they do it as well as they might do their own litigation," she said.
Besides, beginning in 2008, people will have to present valid passports to cross the Mexican and Canadian borders even by car or on foot.
To obtain a passport paperwork can be filed at either the county clerk-recorder's office or certain Post Offices people must present proof of U.S. citizenship through a certified copy of a birth certificate along with two passport photos, their identification cards, and fees.
The phone number for the County Clerk-Recorder's office is 781-5080.