Beijing Capital Airport Terminal 3, designed by Foster + Partners, opened in 2008. Sue Frause photo.
I wasn't surprised when I read how few Americans have passports. According to Grey's Blog, the top five states with passport ownership include New Jersey, Alaska, Massachusetts, New York and California. But at the bottom of the travel bin are Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, West Virginia and Mississippi. The percentages range from a high of 68.36% in New Jersey to a low of 19.86% in Mississippi. I was pleased that my home state of Washington came in at number eight, with 57% of the population being passport carrying citizens.
That brings me to the high cost of US Passport fees. A first-time passport or passport renewal fee is $140 for adults, $80 for minors. Granted, the passports are good for ten years ("you are now free to leave the country"), so that amortizes out to $14 a year for adults and $8 for minors. But they get you again when it's time to add visa pages to your passport.
My husband and I are off to Singapore and North Vietnam in early May. When I noticed that my US Passport only had three of the 24 visa pages still blank, I wondered if that would be a problem. Well, it could have been a huge problem. According to the US Department of State, if you have less than 2-4 visa pages remaining in your passport book, you need to get more. In other words, a foreign country could refuse me entrance if they didn't think I had enough blanks in my book. So what's it going to cost? Here are the fees:
52 additional passport visa pages $82
Expedition fee $60
Overnight delivery fee $12.72
That's a total of $154.72 per passport, or $309.44 for both. Granted, I could have saved money on the expedition fee by taking care of this earlier. But standard delivery is four weeks, and that's cutting it too close.
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