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Posts Tagged ‘US Passport Fee Increase’

27th March 2010

In a few recent blog posts, this author has discussed the proposed fee increases for services offered at US Diplomatic and Consular Posts abroad. Apparently, the Department of State will be increasing the fees associated with Passport procurement. Also, those who wish to obtain new pages in their passport will no longer be able to have pages added free of charge. Finally, although on a slightly different topic, the fees for non-immigrant family based visas is to be raised as well. For those who are unfamiliar with the details of US Immigration the US Fiance Visa (also called the K1 visa) and the Non-Immigrant US Marriage visa (Also called a K3 Visa) are issued at American Embassies overseas.

The Department of State issued some statements in a supplement regarding the proposed rule that would increase the fees for Consular Services:

“The Department of State (“Department”) published two proposed rules in the Federal Register on December 14, 2009 (74 FR 66076, Public Notice 6851, RIN 1400-AC57), and on February 9, 2010 (75 FR 6321, Public Notice 6887, RIN 1400-AC58), proposing to amend sections of part 22 of Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations, the Schedule of Fees for Consular Services. The Department’s proposed rules solicited comments, and a number of comments requested additional detail on the Consular Services Cost of Service Study (CoSS) as well as time to comment on that detail. In response, the Department is providing the additional written detail below.”

The Department of State should be commended for taking the time to explain to the public the policy reasons for a fee increase. In many ways, a fee increase is periodically necessary as each US Embassy and/or US Consulate must serve the needs of the Americans using the post while at the same time stay within a budget. Balancing these two objectives can be difficult at times. The statement went further in describing the reasons behind the increase in fees, but used an analogy to make the point:

“Example: Imagine a government agency that has a single facility it uses to prepare and issue a single product–a driver’s license. In this simple scenario, every cost associated with that facility (the salaries of employees, the electricity to power the computer terminals, the cost of a blank driver’s license, etc.) can be attributed directly to the cost of producing that single item. If that agency wants to ensure that it is charging a “self- sustaining” price for driver’s licenses, it only has to divide its total costs for a given time period by an estimate of the number of driver’s licenses to be produced during that same time period.”

As this analogy points out, if an organization is just producing one product, then determining the cost of the product is relatively easy:

“However, if that agency issues multiple products (driver’s licenses, non-driver ID cards, etc.), has employees that work on other activities besides licenses (for example, accepting payment for traffic tickets), and operates out of multiple facilities it shares with other agencies, it becomes much more complex for the agency to determine exactly how much it costs to produce any single product. In those instances, the agency would need to know what percent of time its employees spend on each service and how much of its overhead (rent, utilities, facilities maintenance, etc.) are consumed in delivering each service to determine the cost of producing each of its various products–the driver’s license, the non-driver ID card, etc. Using an ABC model would allow the agency to develop those costs.”

Apparently, the Department of State, through use of modeling, has discovered the true cost of their services and is attempting  to adjust their fees accordingly. It remains to be seen how thee changes will impact expats and Americans using United States Consular Posts abroad. In Thailand, it is this author’s opinion, that this fee increase will have the biggest impact upon the American Citizen Services Unit of the US Embassy Bangkok and the US Consulate Chiang Mai as those respective units deal with issues like new passport issuance on a regular basis.

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