By Johnny Jackson
Need a passport for an upcoming business trip or vacation?
Area residents will have an opportunity to get it done quickly today at the McDonough Post Office. The post office, located at 100 Postmaster Drive, is hosting a "Passport Fair" from 1 p.m., to 3 p.m.
McDonough Postmaster Richard Campbell said the Passport Fair will offer customers one-stop shopping for passports and passport cards, which can only be used for land and sea travel involving the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean.
"Our retail associates will help customers with passport applications, fees and photos," Campbell said. "They make it easy and convenient for travelers to apply for a passport or passport card."
McDonough is one of several passport sites in metro Atlanta that has offered the fair. The post office typically files 15-20 passport applications daily during the week, and 20-30 on Saturdays.
The number of passport applications has leveled off in recent months from the levels experienced a year ago, following the implementation of new passport requirements. The requirements, under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, went into effect in January 2007.
"It's leveled off," said United States Postal Service Spokesman Michael Miles. "We saw the big spikes immediately after the new regulations went into effect."
Demand continues to be constant, however. "In general, what you see in metro Atlanta, we have a very diverse community, which would explain some of the demand in the area."
The cost for a passport is $100 for applicants 16 years old, and older, with separate payments of $75 paid to the State Department for the passport application fee and $25 to the Postal Service for the Department of State-set processing fee. For those under the age of 16, the cost is $85, with separate payments of $60 and $25, respectively.
For those who cannot make the Passport Fair, the Postal Service recommends applying for passports at a local post office as soon as possible - at least two months, or earlier, before departure - to avoid any extra costs involved in expediting passport applications.
The Postal Service recommends keeping in mind the following, to help the passport application process go smoothly and efficiently:
· First, applicants should bring in proper proof of American citizenship. The proof must be a certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state or a previous U.S. passport or a certificate of citizenship, or a naturalization certificate. A hospital-issued birth certificate alone is not acceptable.
· Applicants must bring in proof of identity -- a previous U.S. passport, a naturalization certificate, a certificate of citizenship, or a current valid driver's license, government ID, or military photo ID. The passport application requires two recent identical photographs, which select Post Offices can provide for a $15 fee.
Officials are encouraging applicants to complete their applications ahead of time by going online to the United States Postal Services web site, and printing only in black ink.
"Customers may also obtain a form at any passport office," added Campbell. "[But] do not sign the application form, as the passport acceptance clerk must witness the signing."
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