20 August 2007

Passport delays - not just us then!

Until I saw this story, I hadn't noticed the absence of one of our annual travel themes.

Normally the early part of the summer is populated with news stories and TV reports about passport delays as Britons prepare for their summer hols. We haven't had them this year. But the Americans have.

The old stereotype image of Americans is that they are un-travelled and till now the supporting evidence has been that only one-fifth of Americans hold a passport. Well, that's because in their sphere of influence they didn't need them.

Now, post-911 security legislation is forcing a change. Not only do Americans require passports to go to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean by air, new regulations coming into effect next year will require them to have passports for travel to those destinations by land or sea as well.

All of this has meant a mad scramble for US passports - the '1 passport holder in 5 Americans' statistic is now 1 in 4 and expected to be 1 in 2 by 2011 - and what had been a 3-day turnaround for passport applications is currently somewhere around 12 weeks according to one report.

I only mention it for its schadenfreude value.

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