Q: What do Iowans need to know to renew or apply for a passport?
A: The U.S. Department of State issues passports to American citizens for overseas travel. A year ago, the State Department was beset with a tremendous backlog as international travel picked up when COVID-19 restrictions lifted. This summer many Americans are resuming vacations that were put on a pandemic-related back burner. In the interim, a family member’s passport may have expired. Before rebooking a dream vacation to Europe, South America or elsewhere, it’s important to check every family member’s passport expiration date. Infants also require a valid passport. The passport book is required for overseas travel. The passport card may be used for entering the United States from land and sea ports-of-entry from Canada, Mexico, The Caribbean and Bermuda. The good news is the State Department has trimmed its wait time from 18 weeks to less than 12 weeks. Applicants should expect a turnaround time between 8 to 11 weeks from the day the application is received at a passport agency. Iowans may choose to expedite their application for a $60 fee that trims the turnaround processing to 5 to 7 weeks. Find specific information online at https://travel.state.gov about renewing, reporting a lost or stolen passport and tracking a renewal application status. Most eligible adults may renew passports by mail with form DS-82. Also keep in mind, some countries may not allow entry if a traveler’s passport is set to expire within six months of entering the country. I also encourage Iowans to avoid unnecessary delays by making sure all supporting documentation is accurate and complete. Check the list of accepted documents for proof of identification and citizenship here. Note that new applications require certified identification documents. Passports for those 16 and younger are valid for only five years (10 years for those age 17 and older) and the minor must apply in person and be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian at a Passport Acceptance Facility. The Department of State designates post offices and public libraries to accept passport applications on its behalf. Find the most convenient location here. As always, my Senate office is at your service to provide guidance and assistance to Iowans encountering delays with passport applications. To assist you, a consent form is required to look into your case. Fill out the form found on my website https://www.grassley.senate.gov. Go to the Services tab and click Help With Federal Agencies. Although my office can’t guarantee a desired outcome, we’ll do what we can to help Iowans obtain passports in time.
Q: What advice do you have for Iowans planning a trip to Washington, D.C.?
A: I encourage Iowans to put a visit to the nation’s capital on your family vacation list. Visiting the seat of our federal government offers Iowans of all ages an opportunity to immerse themselves in history, architecture, museums, monuments and more. For Iowa veterans and family members of service members, the war memorials on the National Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the U.S. Capitol are particularly meaningful. The demand for tours is ramping back up and I advise families to plan as far ahead as possible. Tours may be requested through my office up to six months in advance for certain attractions. Iowans can go to my website https://www.grassley.senate.gov to fill out a tour request form and find links to popular destinations in Washington, such as the Smithsonian Museums, Arlington National Cemetery and the Holocaust Memorial Museum. This summer my Senate office started a first-of-its-kind walking tour of the Capitol grounds. Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi have extended COVID-19 restrictions that continue to limit access inside the U.S. Capitol and that’s disappointing for Iowans who travel halfway across the country to visit. I’ve urged them to expand access sooner, rather than later. In the meantime, members of my staff will conduct walking tours two times a week of the Capitol grounds so Iowans can learn about the history and architecture of the building and ask questions about the people’s branch of the federal government. The hour-long walking tours are available Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 10:30 a.m., except Federal holidays. Iowans can reserve a spot on the walking tour here at https://www.grassley.senate.gov/services/visiting-dc/tour-request-form.