Passport requirements are changing

Starting Jan. 23, all travelers to and from the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America and Bermuda must have a passport to enter or re-enter the United States. This requirement applies to air and sea travel (including cruise passengers) to and from the above countries.

The procedure for obtaining your passport is relatively simple. You will need:

Take these items to your local Post Office or county clerk's office. It's best to call ahead for an appointment with the postmaster or the passport clerk. (The Traverse City Post Office is at 946-9616.) The Post Office will have a passport application you can fill out. You will then be required to take the oath for your passport.

The Post Office will also be able to take your passport photos (for $15) and process your passport on site. You can also have your passport photo taken at Wal-Mart, Meijer, the AAA Office, or various other locations in the area.

The passport application fees are: 16 years and older: $97, under 16 years: $82. You will usually receive your passport within six weeks, along with the return of your birth certificate.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was initiated by the U.S. Government to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for U.S. citizens and legitimate international travelers.

Priscilla Bachman Bodamer, owner of Bellissimo Travel Services, can be reached at 932-7553 or