US passport: The cost of your first one could go up to $135

The State Department is planning to increase fees for a US passport. The cost of a renewal could jump to $110.

Want to see the Eiffel Tower or soak up the sun on a Bermuda beach, but don’t have a passport? It could cost you a little more to get one.

Later this year, the State Department could charge an adult – anyone 16 and older – $135 for a first-time passport. For the past two years, the charge has been $100 (and it was $97 before February 2008).

State Department officials maintain that a 35 percent increase would be a small price to pay for the added convenience and faster passport delivery time, which are resulting from the addition of new passport agencies in Detroit; Dallas; Minneapolis; and Tucson, Ariz. The United States now has 23 regional passport agencies.

Over the past year, more American travelers have discovered they needed a passport where before other documentation had sufficed. As of June 2009, Americans have been required to present a passport (or other US government travel document) when returning from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or seaport. A passport was already required for return through a US airport.

To encourage more Americans to get a passport, the State Department will hold “Passport Day in the USA” on March 27 at all regional passport agencies and about 2,000 “passport acceptance facilities,” which include some post offices.

A similar event a year ago resulted in 57,000 passport applications.

Other passport fees are also expected to rise later this year. For those under 16, the cost of a passport could be $105. Passport renewal may jump to $110.

But if you’ll be in a hurry to get to Paris or that Bermuda beach, the additional fee for expedited passport services is likely to remain at $60.

[Editor's note: The original version of this story incorrectly indicated when passport fees would rise. The rates are expected to increase later this year.]

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