Passport restrictions begin on Monday, Oct. 1st, 2007

by Brooke Hart
NBC News

The new rules as of Monday affect all air travelers.

U.S. citizens wanting to fly to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda must have a passport; proof of application for a passport is no longer enough.

The requirement's aimed at security, but government officials expect big benefits toward another goal of collecting child support.

"The most amount that we've gotten is over $311,000 and that was from a business man who was doing business in China, was actually living in China, and needed a passport to travel, and that was extremely dramatic," says Margot Bean, Office of Child Support Enforcement.

For years, child support offices have shared their database with the state department, but collections have recently soared.

Now, owing only $2,500 gets your passport denied; that is half of what it was last year.

Travel rules have also made passports an increasing necessity; state child support workers like that.

"A passport is a privilege. It's like we take drivers licenses, other professional licenses that are suspended for people that don't pay their child support," says Nick Young, Virginia Office of Child Support Enforcement.

Stricter passport rules are expected to mean more success, and better lives for children.

Officials say, all told, children across the country are owed a whopping one hundred ten billion dollars.

Collections are on track to double over last year.

Now, this new passport rule affects only air travelers.

It will include land travel next year, and child support workers expect more dollars to roll in.