Got Your Passport?

For those of you who like to travel, the economic downturn might impact future plans. But that's not the only thing that might keep you grounded. Bill Stamps reports on a new law that figures to effect millions of people wanting to leave the country.
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If you're planning take a trip out of the country next year you're going to need a passport.

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In the past you could cross the border into Mexico to celebrate whatever it is you're celebrating and do it without a passport. Not anymore.

"The U.S. government wants to make sure that whoever is applying or entering the country is a legal person with documentation. So it is a pure security process, or step."

Jan Dvorak works for a company that processes passports. Although the new law takes effect June first, he says people should start apply as soon as possible before things get hectic.

"We are advising our clients to apply for a passport ahead of time so they can avoid the rush and possible delays. As soon as you are getting to the June deadline more and more people are going to apply and we are anticipating there will be a backlog of passports for processing."

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Dvorak says he already gets calls from people stuck at the airport because they didn't know they needed a passport to get to their destination. He expects things to get much worse next year.

"Can you imagine spring break next year '010?— When thousand and thousands of students are flying to Mexico to have a good time and suddenly they will have to apply for a passport. It's going to be an issue — absolutely."

Applying for a passport is similar to applying for a drivers license. It's pretty simple but can take up some of your time. For those who don't want a passport they can apply for a passport card. That's a card that looks similar to a drivers license and is 25 dollars cheaper than a passport. But it takes just as long to apply. Either way, if you're planning to cross the border celebrate the big 40, 30, divorce or just want to get away...better start filling out your application.

Bill Stamps, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.