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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2 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…

    Liked by 1 person

  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!

    Like

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