Passport fees are slated to jump Tuesday, prompting local travel experts to urge those with overseas aspirations to apply before the Monday night deadline.
The cost of first-time passports for adults will cost $135, up $15, while renewals will rise $35 to $110. Getting additional pages will cost more under the new fee schedule, as will filing fees for those who need to prove citizenship.
"It's the biggest mess we've seen in a long time," said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend. "Some of these fees are going to be astronomical."
The demand for passports has grown to about 15 million per year, according to the State Department, as security measures have tightened to places such as Canada and Mexico while overseas flights have dropped in price.
The new fees for passports help cover the actual cost of making the blue books and cards, according to the State Department, but also are intended to help defray the costs of emergency services provided to Americans traveling aboard.
Yet the spike could hurt travelers' pocketbooks and even the government, warns the AAA Mid-Atlantic travel club.
"The fee increase could backfire on the State Department," Townsend said, "because some Americans may choose not to renew existing passports given the slow economy and increased cost."
AAA Mid-Atlantic advises travelers to get passports six months before planned overseas travel. All children now need passports, and those under 16 must have both parents present when applying and traveling or they must fill out special consent forms to guard against international kidnapping. Applicants should use black ink.