DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: I misplaced my passport lately. I despatched an utility for a passport renewal to the U.S. Division of State and paid $116. Yesterday, I acquired a letter again saying that I already had a passport (which I discovered within the meantime) however that they’ve already cashed my verify.
Once I contacted their workplace, a consultant informed me they’d refund the cash. Now they’re saying they gained’t refund me. How can they preserve my cash if I didn’t must renew?
— Wendy Taylor, Park Ridge, Illinois
ANSWER: Whenever you lose your passport, you need to report it as misplaced or stolen to the State Division. You’ll be able to’t simply apply for a brand new one.
Whenever you do this, the State Division checks to see you probably have an lively passport. For those who do, it sends your utility again. However the authorities additionally cashes your verify and will get to maintain your cash.
Why? In line with Title 22 of the Code of Federal Laws 51.51 and 51.55, passport execution charges are nonrefundable. It doesn’t matter what an official consultant informed you; the State Division goes to maintain your cash.
However one thing about your case wasn’t proper. No, it’s not that the federal government can take your cash and provide you with nothing in return (I pay my taxes, so I do know what that appears like). It’s that somebody informed you that you possibly can get a refund however was improper.
I run into this problem on a regular basis. Journey firms and authorities businesses anticipate shoppers to have learn each contract and regulation, which is unreasonable. I checked the State Division web site, and I can see the way you would possibly assume you’ll be able to order up a brand new passport and that the federal government would mechanically invalidate your previous one. Sadly, that’s not the way it works. The burden must be on the State Division to obviously state the necessity to first report your passport as misplaced or stolen earlier than making use of for a substitute.
Nonetheless, if you wish to be an knowledgeable client, it is best to learn the fantastic print rigorously. That’s very true while you’re coping with a big forms just like the federal authorities. Depart nothing to likelihood. You rushed by the method of making use of for a substitute passport earlier than guaranteeing that your passport was certainly misplaced.
I checked with the State Division. I’m afraid you gained’t be getting a refund. However the State Division did the following neatest thing, extending your passport by three years. It’s not the answer you needed, however a minimum of you’ll get one thing to your cash. My recommendation? Preserve that passport in a protected place.