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Geez, Get the Passport, Already!

We all know that the true crazy season for family stuff is about to begin.

There are outdoor festivals and events to take advantage of nice fall weather. Halloween is practically a month-long event (even longer if you tack on Dia de los Muertos.)

You may want to make travel plans for Thanksgiving, and my favorite organizer, the FlyLady, has already posted her tipsheet for early Christmas/winter holidays prep.

A kid and her passport (courtesy Flickr)

So, before it gets too nuts, resolve to get you and your entire family set with passports if you are US citizens.

Starting in January 2007 (that would be in two months!) you will need a passport to get back into the United States through airports, even from some of the countries where we’ve never had many re-entry requirements (the list includes Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, Panama, Central and South America and most Caribbean islands.)

Stand by for January 2008, when the requirement will also be in force for seaport and land crossings into and out of all of the countries above….are you listening, cruise fans?

This very good New York Times article mentions that the State Department estimates that 73 percent of Americans don’t have passports. Even though not all are going to run out and get them, there is good potential for a big ol’ clog in the bureaucracy as the system tries to respond to demand in issuing these documents.

Remember, for first-time applicants, you’ll need to go in person (usually to a local post office, county clerk office or library) and it’s $97 each for adults and $82 for kids under 16. Ouch.

The official US State Department Passport Page is here, with all of the latest requirements and links to other info pages.

So, how many of you have already beaten the rush? Full disclosure: I need to renew. How about you?