ADA — Pontotoc County Court Clerk’s office has noticed an increase in requests for passports recently.

“As an acceptance agent, we accept and aid in completion of applications for passports which we then forward to the U.S. Department of State to process,” said Ernestine Eubank, court clerk for Pontotoc County.

“Court clerks aren’t required to provide the service, but we do it for our community. We have seen an increase in passport applications these days,” she said.

All traveling persons must have their own passports, including infants. “All minors under age 14 need to appear in person and both parents or legal guardians have to sign their consent,” Eubank said. “If only one parent appears then the child’s second parent can submit a written notarized statement of consent, or if unavailable a written statement, made under penalty of perjury, explaining the second parent’s unavailability or primary evidence of sole authority to apply.”

Minors 14 and older also need to appear in person, have parental consent, and have identification to present.

Proof of U.S. citizenship, proof of identity, two recent color photographs and fees are required to be submitted with the application for a passport.

“It takes 4-6 weeks for normal processing once we overnight the application to the State Department,” Eubank said. “Extra fees can reduce that time to about two weeks, and if you want to travel to Houston, they will walk the application through in three to four days, but it really costs to do it that way.”

It is expected that by mid-2006 nearly all U.S. passports will be issued containing an embedded electronic chip called an “Electronic Passport.” The new chip added to the back cover will contain duplicate electronic information from the data page. In some cases, the new passport will provide for faster clearance through ports-of-entry equipped with electronic chip readers.

More information about traveling abroad is available at the Department of State's web site:, or call toll free (888) 407-4747.

Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires by Jan.1, 2008, travelers to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada have a passport or other secure, accepted document to enter or re-enter the United States.  New guidelines are being implemented in phases providing as much advance notice as possible to the affected public to enable them to meet the terms.

Effective Dec. 31, 2006, a passport will be required for all air and sea travel to or from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.

Effective Dec. 31, 2007, the passport requirement will be extended to all land border crossings as well as air and sea travel.

This is a change from prior travel requirements and will affect all United States citizens entering the United States from countries within the Western Hemisphere who do not currently possess valid passports. This new requirement will also affect certain foreign nationals who currently are not required to present a passport to travel to the United States.  Most Canadian citizens, citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, and to a lesser degree, Mexican citizens will be affected by the implementation of this requirement.

Travel warnings have been issued for Liberia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Cote d’Ivoire.

Even if a passport is not required to visit a foreign country, U.S. immigration authorities require that U.S. citizenship and identity must be proved to reenter the United States. A U.S. passport is the best proof of U.S. citizenship.

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