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New passport law goes into effect

Traveling to Canada or Mexico? Take your paperwork

Posted: June 1, 2009 10:39 p.m.
Updated: June 2, 2009 8:30 a.m.
As of today the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will enforce rules requiring U.S. citizens to carry passports or passport cards when traveling by car or cruise ship to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean.

Those traveling by cruise or car outside the U.S. have the less expensive option of using a passport card rather than a full passport.
A passport card is about the size of a driver's license and can be a more convenient way to quickly present identification.

"The passport cards are a budget-friendly option because they cost $45, while a first-time passport costs $100," said Larry Shaw, manager of the Auto Club's Santa Clarita office. Passport cards cannot be used for international air travel.

The Automobile Club of Southern California's Santa Clarita office, located at 23770 Valencia Blvd., can assist members and non-members with renewing passports and obtaining International Driving Permits required in some countries for U.S. residents to drive there on vacation.

Those obtaining first-time passports must go to a passport processing center, located in U.S. post offices and other government facilities.

Typical processing time for new passports, passport cards and renewals is four to six weeks. Expedited passports are available for an additional $60 through the State Department.

Those who have never obtained a U.S. passport, or those who have expired passports, must apply in person for a passport card if they choose to obtain that instead of a full passport. Cost for a passport card is $45 for adults and $35 for minors under age 16.

For more information on international travel, consumers can review passport information at or visit the State Department Web site at


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