Plumping up my passport


My passport is not quite to the point that I can call it fat. But it certainly is pleasantly plump thanks to the kind folks at the San Diego Passport Agency office. When I booked a couple of the Boston – San Diego $60 fares for travel last week I purposefully budgeted an extra day on the ground in San Diego on Friday. I didn’t have much of a plan for what to do during the day but I figured something good would come up, even if it was just sitting on a beach in San Diego. Instead I ended up getting more visa pages in my passport.

The Passport Agency office in San Diego is pretty much brand new. As such, getting an appointment there is actually very, very easy. I had my choice of days and times; quite a different experience from making an appointment in New York City. And so, at 8:30am I was standing at a counter trying to explain to the agent (who used to work in the NYC office) that I do live in NYC but that I’m applying for extra pages in San Diego and that I’m leaving at 6am the following morning to go back to NY even though my travel plans have me leaving San Francisco in 4 days. Eventually she gave up trying to comprehend my crazy (i don’t blame her at all) and stapled my application together with instructions to return at 2pm to pick it up.

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As part of the application process there is now a checkbox on the form (DS-4085) that allows for the request of a double set of pages. There is fine print that allows them do deny the request (and I was somewhat concerned they might as I’d already done extra pages once) but my friendly agent made sure to highlight that selection on my application and, when I picked up my passport both blanks sets were there.

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I’ve got five years of validity left on the passport and part of me hopes that having the two extra sets of pages will be sufficient such that I won’t need more before it comes time for renewal. Another part of me sees that as potentially curtailing my travel so I’m not as excited about it. Then again, now that I have my Global Entry access thanks to American Express, I should be seeing many fewer stamps from the Americans so that should help keep the passport a bit more clean. Still, at roughly 20 border crossings each year the pages do fill up pretty quickly.

It is worth noting that getting the pages added same-day incurs an extra $60 fee, on top of the $82 base fee that the State Department charges for the pages now. Still, for me the extra $60 is well worth not giving up possession of my passport for the 2-3 weeks the extra pages take. I already missed one bargain trip to Europe this year because of the Brazilians having my passport. I’d hate to miss another. Even just my regular scheduled travel rarely leaves time for giving up my passport book for that long.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .
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