Passport Line Crowd Control

Walking down 19th Street this morning, I see we have a change in the passport office block of frustration. We now have crowd control lines reminiscent of the airport:

photographic protest

Just like premium passengers at Dulles, there are separate classes of passport applicants.

On the left are proletariat who are flying soon and yet have to wait over two hours to apply. On the right are bourgeoisie, with letters from their Congressmen and a few minutes wait for passport services.

Don’t expect those lines to get any shorter anytime soon. Even though Congress postponed new passport rules for at least six months yesterday, the WashPost reports that the State Department is still buried under applications:

Although the State Department has taken steps to improve passport services, it will be playing catch-up for the next few months. Officials do not think they will get back to the regular processing time of six weeks until the end of the year.

Oh and good luck calling in or emailing with questions. As I found with three weeks of busy or dropped calls, the State Department can’t even answer its phones its so overloaded:

The number of daily calls has varied greatly in the past month, ranging from 330,000 to 880,000, officials said. Because of the volume, the department estimates that 46 to 80 percent of callers may be unable to speak with a customer-service representative.

Or in other words, “Welcome to the madness, have a nice day!”

14 Comments so far

  1. Chris L (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2007 @ 9:49 am

    Meh. They should have had passports already. I’ve had a passport since I was 8 years old.

  2. Tiff (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2007 @ 10:19 am

    …or their passports have expired, or they need to update information on them… For example, I’ve got a passport, but it still lists my maiden name and therefore doesn’t match any of my other ID.

    I don’t buy this line that everyone should have a passport- it smacks of that ridiculous statistic that gets bandied about about how many Europeans have passports vs. how many Americans have passports and how supposedly less cultured and less well-traveled we are because of it.

    Europe is 3.9million square miles. The United States is 3.7million square miles. In roughly the distance it would take you to tour Europe, having to show your passport at every border crossing, you can travel the entire United States without even having to show so much as a drivers license. Not to mention, you didn’t need a passport to visit Mexico and Canada until recently (and I believe some Carribbean countries as well). I took a 3000 mile road trip last summer just within the US- how many European countries could I have passed through in the same distance?

    Meanwhile, you can jump in your car in Europe and drive to another country for relatively little money, but in the US, international travel requiring a passport has traditionally involved some sort of trans-oceanic flight. That’s expensive, and puts international travel out of the economic reach of some Americans in a way that doesn’t exist in Europe.

    Yeah, international travel is great and I’m all for it, but this passport snobbery is total bullshit.

  3. Mark (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2007 @ 10:20 am

    I walk past the passport office every morning on my way to my office on 20th and M and that’s the first I’ve seen of this kind of crowd control… certainly glad I decided to get mine while I was in college, “just in case…”

  4. Wayan (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2007 @ 10:39 am


    You don’t need a passport to cross Europe anymore thanks to the Schengen Agreement, but I do think Americans should have a passport.

    Only a US Passport is considered absolute proof of citizenship and with all the brouhaha over illegal immigration, those who might look Latino or not born in the USA, but American citizens, would be smart to have one.

    I’ve had a passport since birth, but I am also facing that line as I’ve not only filled all my passport pages with multiple stamps, my photo is starting to delaminate.

  5. IntangibleArts (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2007 @ 10:42 am

    …and for what it’s worth:

    If you leave your passport in your pocket after a trip and promptly throw it in the washing machine, it transforms into a lovely little blue rosebud. A nice project for the Martha Stewart crowd.

    ……..of course now I’m wondering how durable those horrendous, fascist little RFID chips are, after being given the laundry treatment…

  6. Wayan (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2007 @ 10:57 am

    Well let’s just say that a hammer would be one way to de-RFID your new passport

  7. Victoria (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2007 @ 1:59 pm

    I really don’t understand why so many people feel they need to go the Passport Office itself. You can go to most local post offices and get everything processed very easily. And, if you need it in a rush, they can take care of that for you for a fee. I got mine in less than two weeks and I never stood in that insane line.

  8. Wayan (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2007 @ 2:18 pm

    If only it was that fast these days. If you submit a mail-in passport renewal now you are looking at 6 weeks minimum, sometimes a month or two. Not acceptable if you need it quickly or want to make sure you get it back before a flight.

  9. Tiff (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2007 @ 4:24 pm

    The Schengen agreement doesn’t cover all of Europe- the UK, for example, hasn’t fully implemented it yet, as well as several other countries.

    Your birth certificate is sufficient proof of citizenship since it shows your place of birth, it just doesn’t also prove your identity (that’s what driver’s licenses/military IDs are for). Of course it’s a handy thing to have a passport, but the average American doesn’t need one- or at least, didn’t, until the US started getting uppity about border controls with Canada and Mexico.

  10. Wayan (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2007 @ 4:46 pm

    A birth certificate only proves US citizenship if you were born in the USA. If you were born overseas, you have to get a whole other certificate to prove citizenship. Or a passport.

    And that the average American thinks Mexico or Canada qualifies as a foreign country (more so for all-inclusive Caribbean resorts) is a whole other debacle.

  11. Sten in Logan Circle (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2007 @ 8:57 pm

    if you live in DC, you can contact Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s office and get a congressional letter and get into the “bourgeoisie” entrance. I got it the same day I asked for it and the people in the special office are super nice.

  12. Average American (unregistered) on June 23rd, 2007 @ 12:33 am

    “And that the average American thinks Mexico or Canada qualifies as a foreign country (more so for all-inclusive Caribbean resorts) is a whole other debacle.”

    Does Belize qualify as a foreign country?

    Japan? Niger?

    Exacly which countries do qualify as foreign countries?

  13. Borders (unregistered) on June 23rd, 2007 @ 1:15 pm

    For someone so well-traveled, I’m concerned that Wayan doesn’t know that Mexico and Canada are, in fact, foreign. Or maybe he just needs a dictionary?

  14. wayan (unregistered) on June 23rd, 2007 @ 6:36 pm

    I am well aware that Mexico and Canada are foreign countries, I just don’t think they count as destinations exotic enough to be considered all that amazing if you go there.

    Southern Mexico would count though, its quite wild.

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