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U.S. State Department Prepares to Sharply Raise Consular Fees

08.07.10 01:20 Age: 8 yrs
U.S. State Department Prepares to Sharply Raise Consular Fees

The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs recently announced steep increases for 27 different fees charged for the services provided to American Citizens. The new fees will apply at the 301 overseas consular posts, as well as the 23 domestic passport agencies and service centers.

The price for a new adult passport book will increase from $100 to $135, while the fee for a child will increase from $85 to $105. Renewal fees for adult passports will climb from $75 to $110. Perhaps the most shocking rise comes in the $82 that will be charged for additional pages to be sewn into a passport – this service is currently free. The 22 other fees, which include various judicial services, formalities for recording the birth of American children born abroad, and even the renunciation of American citizenship, will all see similar increases.

Under U.S. law, the fees charged by the Bureau of Consular Affairs must be equivalent to the increases in actual costs borne by the agency; the fees have been increased in accordance with the findings of a detailed study conducted in June 2009. The Bureau blames much of the increase in costs on new technology built into passports. American passports have been issued with electronic chips embedded in their covers since October 2006 – these newer passports are referred to as e-passports, and are marked with a special symbol on their covers. The chips in e-passports contain the photograph and personal information of the passport holder; while the chips certainly enhance the security of the document, they also increase the cost of producing it.

Frequent travelers will likely be annoyed by the new fee increases, but hopefully can appreciate that they will be funding enhanced security features and paying for the actual costs incurred by the Bureau of Consular Affairs. The new fees do not go into effect until July 13, 2010, so there is still a small window of time in which Americans can take advantage of consular services at the current lower prices.

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