Dream about touring the Colosseum or scuba diving in the Red Sea but haven't applied for that U.S. passport yet?
If so, you may want to dig out your birth certificate this weekend, pose for a passport-quality photo and download an online application.
Then, prepare to stand in a long line come Monday.
The cost of a passport is going up Tuesday, and many people are rushing to get in before the deadline so they can save up to $35 per person for that big trip.
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The Benton and Franklin county clerk's offices -- the only two agencies that accept new applications in the bicounty area -- have reported an influx of people in recent weeks and know Monday could be ugly. But they understand a fee increase like this can really hit the pocketbook, especially for large families.
"We see the people struggling to pay for it as it is, so a $35 jump is high," said Franklin Clerk Mike Killian. He said acceptance facilities like the clerk's offices only got official notice of the planned increase about three weeks ago.
A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies the identity and nationality of the bearer. Even infants are required to have a valid U.S. passport book to enter and leave foreign countries.
A passport card, instituted in February 2008, is a less expensive option that only can be used for land and sea travel between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean.
The U.S. State Department is raising the first-time application fee for a passport book for people 16 and older to $110 from $75 and for minors under 16 to $80 from $60.
A passport card will cost $30 for adults and $15 for minors, up from $20 and $10.
All new applications also include a $25 processing fee per person.
Renewals for passport books also jump to $110 from $75, but there is no processing fee since the applicant must mail it directly to the passport agency.
The turnaround time for a new passport can be at least six weeks. There is an additional $60 fee to speed up the process to receive it within two weeks.
The passport book and card for adults are valid for 10 years. Passports for minors under 16 are valid for five years.
People can renew a passport up to five years after it has expired. But passport holders are encouraged to renew nine months before the expiration because some countries won't take people whose passport expires within four to six months.
Citizens must apply in person if: you're applying for the first time; you are under 16; your previous passport was issued more than 15 years ago; your previous passport was issued when you were under 16; or if your currently valid passport has been lost, stolen or damaged.
Passports should be renewed by mail if: your most recent passport is available to submit and is not damaged or altered; the passport was issued within the past 15 years and you were at least 16 when it was issued; and you still have the same name or can legally document your name change.
Franklin County processes new passports from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3:30 p.m. The office will take cash or a credit/debit card for the $25 fee. If paying by card, there is also a $1.80 convenience fee.
Benton County takes passports from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3:30 p.m. The office accepts cash or a check for the $25 fee.
The application fee must be in the form of a check or money order because it is sent to the State Department.
New applicants need a certified copy of their birth certificate or naturalization papers, a valid driver's license or identification card and two passport-specific photos.
Killian reminds people that hospital birth certificates with footprints are not considered government documents. The certificate must be from the state the person was born in.
Minor children need to have both parents with them when applying. If their parents are divorced, the custodial parent must show certified copies of paperwork showing they have custody of the child.
The State Department has said the fee increase is important to keep up with the latest developments in technology.
"Research and development, production and implementation of new technologies for use in our U.S. passport books and cards must be an ongoing priority if we are to keep one step ahead of the resourceful and technologically savvy criminals, terrorist groups and subversive elements bent on doing our nation harm," Brenda Sprague, deputy assistant secretary for passport services, said at a Washington, D.C., news conference in March.
The fees cover the costs of fraud prevention initiatives and providing emergency services for American citizens overseas in crisis situations, like after the Haiti earthquake disaster, Sprague said.
The State Department anticipates an average 15 million applications per year.
In Benton and Franklin counties, the stream of applicants at the clerk's offices has been steady. Killian said Franklin County handles a minimum of five to six a day and Benton Clerk Josie Delvin said this past week her office topped 40 in one day.
The $25 processing fee goes into each county's general fund for providing the service.
Through the first part of July, Franklin County reported a processing fee revenue of $32,995, which breaks down to about 1,320 applications in the first six months of the year.
Benton County took in just over $67,000 through June, or about 2,680 applications.
"We're a lot higher volume than we expected," Delvin said Thursday. She had projected to bring in $90,000 for the whole year. "I think these next couple days are really going to bump that up a lot."
Delvin said she will have extra staff on the front counter Monday to deal with the line. "We're expecting it to hit us. We want to make sure to get it covered and get everybody through," she said.
For more information on passport services or to download an application, go to travel.state.gov/ passport.
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; email@example.com