There are over 137 million active US passports in circulation.
This number is massive, but should be expected because international travel is becoming increasingly more affordable every day. However, you’ll need a passport if you want to travel internationally and that means doing the one thing everyone dread: filling out government documents.
My family has been traveling to the exact same spot in Northern Ontario for over 50 years. We stay on a lake and fish. To do this yearly we all must have passports.
My passport expired weeks before we traveled this year, and we assumed it would be a simple renewal process. Not at all. Because I ordered my passport before I was 16 years old, I wasn’t able to renew; I had to reapply.
People who apply for a passport for the first time need to fill out a form called DS-11 and now I suddenly needed to fill out this same form. Really? I’ve been going on this same trip since I was a toddler.
When we went to the Post Office the first time, I was turned away because I mistakenly filled out the renewal application. After I returned to the Post Office with a new application, I was turned away again. This time I needed to bring my birth certificate, which, by the way, the government had from the first two passports I’ve had, and I filled out the form with blue ink!
When we finally filled out the correct form correctly and submitted all the correct documents, we had to rush my passport. The cost to rush my passport was $200, but that didn’t include the fee to overnight the passport from the processing center. Thankfully, they did process my passport request quickly, but that’s not the point here. We can do better and we need to do better.
There are several things that should be done to modernize this system. For instance, why isn’t there an expedited process for TSA pre check holders? I was fingerprinted and cleared for expedited screening at domestic airports. With all that information given to homeland security, I think we should be able to also use that information to benefit someone getting their first passport or even a passport renewal.
It’s 2019, parts of the government have done good work in transitioning into a more modernized approach to their jobs. For example, in recent years the process of driving over the border has become more secure than before, including X-ray scanning of vehicles passing through. It’s incredibly impressive, the system works quite well passing through and we have rarely waited longer than 30 minutes to cross over on either side of the border.
Why shouldn’t we modernize all our processes? We’re living in a technological world, but we’re still filling out forms and going through the same processes we did when computers and computer records weren’t available. We can simplify the processes to renew or receive a first time passport, so why aren’t we?
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.