Ken Burke, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Pinellas County, will offer a monthly brief, public service, Q & A article.
Q. Can the Clerk's Office help me with a passport?
A. The Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court, Ken Burke's Office is a passport application and filing provider. You can apply for a new passport or receive the paperwork to renew your passport. Because we are a provider of this service, we stay abreast of all changes in laws and regulations related to passports and foreign travel. One upcoming change in foreign travel will affect you, if you are traveling to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Mexico, Canada, and parts of Central and South America. Until now, you have been able to travel to and from these locations using a birth certificate as acceptable documentation of citizenship. However, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires that by January 1, 2008, travelers to these destinations must have passports.
But, the new act will go into affect for the above destinations in phases. The first phase began on January 23, 2007. This means a passport is required for air travel to and from these locations. It can take a minimum of 12 weeks to receive a new passport, so don't delay applying if you are traveling in the near future. ANYONE, including infants, planning to travel to a foreign country requiring passports, will need a passport. EVERY APPLICANT MUST APPEAR IN PERSON, REGARDLESS OF AGE.
As early as January 1, 2008, ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea (including ferries), may be required to present a valid passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. While recent legislative changes permit a later deadline, the Departments of State and Homeland Security are working to meet all requirements as soon as possible.
More information is available on the Clerk's website at http://www.pinellasclerk.org.