New federal rules go into effect Tuesday that require you to show a passport if you leave the country and are coming back across United States borders. Story County Recorder Sue Vande Kamp says for now it only affects travelers going by air, and many apparently have gotten the word.
"We’ve just been inundated for the last several months," Vande Kamp says, "with a lot of people getting passports." Later, travelers who simply drive across the border, even for a short trip to Canada or Mexico, also will have to show a passport to be allowed back into the U.S. Her office is in Nevada, but Vande Kamp says it doesn’t matter where you live, you should be able to apply for a passport at the recorder’s office in any of Iowa’s counties.
Many clerks of court used to provide the service, but in 1994 the judicial system quit doing it, and that’s when the county recorders started handling them. You need to bring certain approved forms of identification when you apply for a passport. Everybody who applies for a passport needs a certified copy of their birth certificate, she says, with a raised seal you can feel on the paper. The baby announcement certificates given to new parents in hospitals do not count.
You also must bring in two identical passport photos. Those are a specific kind of photograph, but Vande Kamp says lots of photography studios and other businesses make them and they advertise the service. If you have an old passport, you can substitute that for a birth certificate, since it proves you’ve already gone through the process of applying and being granted a passport. For more on cases like a lost or altered birth certificate, surf to the U.S. State Department website for all the rules on passports and the new requirements.