New passport rules impact North Alabamians

U.S. Representative Bud Cramer today hailed the easement of new passport rules, which will temporarily allow individuals from North Alabama to travel within the Western Hemisphere without a passport.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of State announced that U.S. citizens traveling to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda who have applied for but have not received their official passport can move forward with their travel plans as scheduled.

American citizens will be allowed to enter and leave the country with a valid government issued photo identification and an official proof of their passport application.

Children under the age of 16 who are traveling with their parents or legal guardian will be permitted to travel with the child's proof of application.

"The passport rules that went into effect this year have created a severe backlog of pending applications that has forced many individuals and families from North Alabama and across the country to postpone or cancel their travel plans," said Cramer.  "The State Department has a responsibility to provide passports in a timely and efficient manner and the current length of this delay is unacceptable.  I am pleased the State Department temporarily eased their restrictions on passport use, but more must be done to reduce the number of outstanding passport applications."

As a result of the extensive delay in processing passports, Representative Cramer advises North Alabama residents that passports could take as long as eight to twelve weeks to issue.

He encourages individuals ensure that their passport is up-to-date and to take steps to renew it well in advance of any planned trip.