The value of a U.S. passport or passport card is incalculable. The Department of State-issued documents—which allow U.S. citizens to travel abroad—provide access to new landscapes, new people, new ideas, and new foods. Just owning one is an indicator of happiness.
The cost of a U.S. passport, though, is very much calculable—and it’s about to go up.
Starting April 2, U.S. citizens who visit a passport office to apply for their first passport or to request a replacement for a lost or stolen passport will pay an execution fee—the sum required for in-person application processing—of $35, up from $25 previously. The execution fee will be the same for both passport books and passport cards. (Find out more about the key differences when it comes to passport books vs. cards.)
The change in execution fee will escalate the cost of a new passport to $145 for adults and $115 for children under 16 years old, though will not affect citizens who plan on renewing their passports by mail.
Increases in the cost of processing passport applications for the Department of State and U.S. Postal Service, whose offices are frequently used by first-time applicants, prompted the change, according a Department of State report. Processing costs are compounded by the fact that demand for the document is soaring: in 2017, a record 21 million U.S. citizens successfully filed a passport application, and Department of State officials expect 20.2 million to apply this year.
“Changes in service volume can have a dramatic effect on whether a fee is self-sustaining,” according to the Department report. The actual cost of the execution fee varied from $33 to $34, the report read.
Despite the upcoming price hike, Department officials do not expect it to impact demand for passports and passport cards.
“The Department does not believe that passport fees are a significant determining factor when Americans decide to travel internationally,” according to the report. “The price of a passport book or card remains minor in comparison with other costs associated with foreign travel, given that taxes and surcharges alone on international airfare can easily surpass $100.”
Applying for a new passport or passport card quickly—either before or after the April 2 deadline passes—may be a good idea. Besides its proven happiness-inducing abilities, the U.S. passport is a key document to have when applying for a REAL ID, which will be the only acceptable form of state-issued identification to fly domestically after October 2020. Whether you’re flying the friendly skies for a trip to Tokyo or Topeka, that little blue book is your friend.