Ready, set, go not as easy now

New passport rules take effect next month

Oak Park mom Beth-Anne Jacob and her son, Elijah Evans, will be back in the United States before new U.S. passport rules take effect. But her father-in-law thought it would be better to have a passport and not need it, so he encouraged her to get one for Elijah before leaving on a December cruise to the Caribbean with her extended family.

Getting a passport in time for the trip meant taking a day off work, showing up at the passport office with 3½-year-old Elijah in tow along with two passport photos, his original birth certificate and her husband's death certificate and paying extra for expedited processing.

But such will be the life of parents traveling internationally after Jan. 8.

New post-9/11 passport rules require that after that date every person, even infants, have a passport when traveling by air to Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda-places that previously required only a driver's license and birth certificate for travel.

These rule changes have been pending for several years, postponed twice and now relaxed to Jan. 8 to make it easier on people traveling over the winter holidays. In another year, everyone traveling between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda by land or sea will require a passport.

Getting a passport for a child under age 14 can be a complicated process. In addition to the original certified birth certificate and bringing the child along to apply for the passport, it requires that both parents appear in person with identification to sign the documents or that one appear and bring a notarized statement of consent from the other person.

For Jacob, having the right documentation wasn't the problem. The trick was getting Elijah to hand over his passport photo to the clerk. "She completely rolled with his silliness," Jacob says. "She said, 'I'll make a photocopy for you.' Then she cut it out, put it in his fake passport and gave it back to him."

For more information, forms and details on special application requirements for adopted children, foreign-born children and other situations, visit the U.S. State Department Web site at

Cindy Richards


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