It Takes More Than a Cheap Ticket

My_collection_of_passport_stamps

I recently heard a fellow expat say they couldn’t afford to renew their passport; therefore, they couldn’t go home for a family funeral. This struck me as sad on so many levels. Of course one should be able to attend a loved one’s funeral. Of course a passport should be an affordable document. Then I asked myself, why do we have to pay for a passport at all?

I did a little research. A United States passport costs $110. It costs $450 to renew a green card ‒ which needs to be done every ten years ‒ and a whopping $680 to get US citizenship once you qualify. A United Kingdom passport costs £72, more if you apply while in a different country. And you’d better sit down for the next one. It will set you back £1282 to get British citizenship once you qualify. That’s right, £1282 for one person. Can you imagine the cost for a family? And, that’s if there are no complications requiring legal assistance. Then there are the notarized copies of birth certificate fees, travel costs to interviews, photos of yourself fees … Well, I could go on and on.

Passport control Flickr

I know we have to save up for airline tickets and hotels and other travel expenses. These are luxuries I don’t take for granted. The financial ability to travel, or lack thereof, is something that will never be equitable. But if you are eligible for a document that proves you are who you are and entitled to live where you live, or entitled to travel across a border and back again, shouldn’t that document be accessible to all, regardless of income level?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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4 thoughts on “It Takes More Than a Cheap Ticket

  1. Interesting and yes, these numbers are pretty eye-watering. At the moment I have both a UK and US passport but my husband has let his UK one lapse.
    Also, I believe the rules will tighten soon on what kind of documents are acceptable for travel, so this may further restrict people’s ability to make even quite short trips.
    I don’t think I’d mind so much if they were a bit quicker processing us when we do leave the US and try to fly back in. My experience at Oakland, California in November was dismal. I can only imagine what non-citizens had to endure…

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  2. I’m a non-citizen of the US (green card holder) and yes, it can be pretty grim at the airport. I know many who qualify for citizenship but can’t afford it. And I think you’re right – things are going to get worse, not better. I try to remember the trials of international travel are first-world problems but when the division of families is involved, it’s hard not to feel bad.
    Good luck on your next trip!

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  3. Tracey, it does seem reasonable that such a document would be priced affordably. But reasonableness is like common sense, not very common. Would love to hear where you’re moving next, but I’m not on Facebook so will not be seeing your hints. 😦 My English grandparents were opposites in the matter of moving (it was probably a major factor in their divorce). My grandmother, who would move on the slightest whim (such as a lovely rosebush in front of a house), called my grandfather and his family “mossbacks,” presumably because they did not roll around enough “to gather no moss.”

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  4. Seeing as the hints on Facebook led to a correct guess, I can now share that I was vacationing in the Brazilian rainforest. A fantastic place full of new foods, especially fish I’d never heard of. I even had piranha soup! With your gastronomic expertise, you’d have loved it.
    Your grandmother is my new hero. Yes, move for a rosebush. Why not? No one will ever be able to accuse me of gathering moss but with that comes hireth. We pick our poison, don’t we?

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