With 9 weeks to go until Mom’s 50th Birthday Cruise I finally went in and applied for my passport. Aside from having to wait over an hour in the Passport Waiting Room it was a relatively painless adventure. I do sort of wonder about whether they monitor that little waiting room and perhaps the people who waited outside and peeked through the glass until their number came up knew something that the rest of us did not.
Still, I must have passed muster since they took my money (oh did they ever) and my application and my birth certificate and in four weeks I should have license to leave–or, rather, reenter–the country. But here’s the mini-rant in all of this: They changed the rules this past January that anyone reentering the US by road or air MUST have a passport. Even kids. So the birth certificate and ID as proof of citizenship? Only works on ships for right now, but soon that won’t even be an option, it’s passport or nothing. But in light of this new mandatory requirement did they do something constructive like lower the rates or put in more staff in expectation? No (or at least not enough). So instead of 6-8 weeks for standard processing (which is a whopping $97) it’s more like 10-12 weeks because they didn’t adequately project the number of applications they would be processing.
But, in all fairness, they have apparently brought in more staff to handle the backlog and are processing in the 300K-400K range per week!
There is an alternative, of course. For an extra $60 you can have your paperwork expedited and then it will only take about 4 weeks. I knew from the time I booked the cruise that expediting was the only real option I had, since we were only about 12 weeks out when we finally decided what we were doing and the cruise boards were reporting waits in the 13-15 week range. Not good.
One thing I was surprised by? When they took my passport photo (the ones I’d done at home were too zoomed in, go figure) it actually didn’t come out horrible!? Is it an omen? I can only hope!