If the Post Office seems busier than usual, many are handling a surge in the processing of applications for passports. Postal Service spokesman Rich Watkins says a change in federal law taking effect today requires it for many travelers. The passport laws administered by the U.S. State Department require all Americans and foreign nationals to have passports when traveling by air and when traveling to and from nearby countries like Canada, Mexico, Central or South America, and Caribbean destinations.

Twenty-three post offices across Iowa process passport applications, and Watkins says the first thing you must bring with you is proper proof of American citizenship, which can be your certified copy of your birth certificate, a previous passport issued to you, a certificate of citizenship, or naturalization certificate.

You’ll also need proof of your identity. Your old passport will serve that purpose also, as will the certificate of citizenship or naturalization certificate, or you can show them a driver’s license, government I.D., or military photo I.D. It’ll take some time and money — expect to wait six to eight weeks to get your completed passport back in the mail. It will cost $97 in total fees to the Post Office and State Department for your passport application fee.

Watkins says many post offices around the state are hosting passport application fairs in the weeks to come. To find a place that’ll take your application, surf to www.USPS.com and use the website’s Passport Locater Service