U.S. passport fees go up February 1, 2008

Mardi Gras isn’t the only place to spend your money this weekend. As of Friday February 1, 2008, U.S. passport fees are going up.

A new passport for an adult (16 years and older) will now cost a whopping $100. Granted the old fee was $97, meaning only a $3 increase, but somehow my eyes widen just a little more than usual when they see a three digit figure. For your kids, plan on paying $85, also a $3 increase over the old fee.

Getting a new passport is obviously expensive, but if you already have one, renewing it seems like something that should only cost some pocket change. The U.S. Department of State doesn’t feel the same way; it increased renewal fees from $67 to $75.

If all of these fees are a source of frustration, you aren’t alone. Last fall, CNN reported that U.S. Senators initiated a congressional investigation to determine whether or not the “execution fee” ($30 of the old fee) was justified. And what did they conclude? That fee was double the actual cost when imposed in 2002; in that year alone, it was estimated that the government overcharged travelers $112.7 million. The U.S. State Department responded, and the new fees that take effect on Friday comprise only a $25 execution fee. But I did my math, and despite the fact that the execution fee is less, paying for a passport is still going to cost you some bucks.

Given that passports are necessary for international travel, and since January 2007, for all air travel to the Caribbean and Canada, the new fees are all part of a bigger mess that can be discouraging for anyone who just wants to make a quick jaunt out of the country.

Or you can spend a little bit less money getting the brand new passport card.

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