The New Spring Break Necessity

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You might be surprised to learn that the new hot spots for college students are the courthouse and the post office. The reason behind the trend is spring break.

Texas A&M student Daniel Lightfoot said he is planning to go to Cancun, Mexico. Fellow A&M student Jeremy Hunt said he is going to Costa Rica.

Aggies who have plans to take their spring break party across the border are flocking to the courthouse and the post office to get something they may have never had take to Mexico: a passport.

As of January 24, the United States Office of Homeland Security requires anyone travelling to Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, and Canada by plane or car to have one. And it seems students are getting the message.

Brazos County District Clerk Marc Hamlin said his office was able to assist some A&M students a couple of weeks ago at a campus event.

"We actually had over 70 processed applicants come through," Hamlin said.

For students unaware of the travel requirement, their spring break could end at the airport or a border check line. Only a few weeks ago, Hunt had to learn the hard way that he needed a passport.

"Someone told me that I had to have a passport to go, so that is why I could not go to Mexico a couple of weeks ago," Hunt said.

The district clerk's office and post office are only two of the local spots to get passports. But before going, you will need to have a government-issued birth certificate. Hospital-issued or photocopied birth certificates will not be accepted.

If you were born in the state of Texas, you can obtain an official copy of your birth certificate by going to Bryan City Hall, Room #108. There is a $23 charge for the copy. Passport applicants will also need other documents like their social security card. In addition, some applicants will need to know the birth dates and birthplaces of their parents.

Passports cost $97, and the cost must be paid with two checks. Normally, it would take only a few weeks for the paperwork to be processed. However, considering the current national demand for passports, the wait is now a lot longer.

Even if an applicant pays a $60 expediting fee, there are good odds that the passport may not come when you need it "because of the numerous applicants across the nation that have applied," Hamlin said. "So people need to understand even if you expedite [the passport paperwork], allow ten to fourteen working days to receive the passport back in the mail."

Lightfoot turned in his paperwork on Tuesday and paid the expediting fee. He is keeping his fingers crossed.

"I had it expedited, so [the post office] said 14 to 16 business days, which is cutting it close," Lightfoot said. "Hopefully [it will] get here on time.

To learn more about how to obtain a passport you can call the Brazos County District Clerk's Office at 361-4230 or visit their office in the Brazos County Courthouse on Texas Avenue, Suite 216. For details on applying for a passport with the post office, you can also call or visit a local branch, or log on to