Friday, April 13, 2007

I Guess They Mean it This Time

I haven’t been following the news about new passport regulations very closely because I already have one and I’ve always been more than happy to use it. (I admit it: I love passport stamps.) I understand that until recently, it was possible to use a notarized birth certificate for travel to Canada and Mexico, but a passport always seemed so much easier.

It sounds like they’re serious now about requiring air travelers to carry passports for trips between the U.S. and Canada/Mexico. I’ve been hearing buzz about how this is going to cause a big backup at passport processing agencies, and I’ve been wondering if this could be true.

I still don’t know for sure, but I did notice something interesting a few days ago. I happened to be in a neighborhood in San Francisco where I used to work, and I saw a group of people standing in line outside an office building in a place where I’d never noticed people queuing before. The office turned out to be the San Francisco Passport Agency, a bureau normally so un-trafficked that until then I hadn’t realized it was there. This suggests to me that more people than usual have been applying for passports.

This should make Mexican, Caribbean, and Canadian tourism authorities happy—I’d been hearing they were worried that American visitors would stay away because we’re too lazy or too cheap to apply for passports. But apparently, if it’s a nice enough day, we will stand in line for quite some time to get one.

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