Maureen N. Maratita

It was interesting to read in our travel update of the Japan market (See the Front Page story) that — prior to the pandemic — only 23% of Japanese citizens held passports.

The U.S. State Department estimated in March that 37% of the U.S. population holds a valid passport. …


Perhaps unsurprisingly, possession of a valid passport increases in relation to income (and there is a correlation with level of education also).

One in five Americans with a household income under $50,000, or 21% have a valid passport, compared to 44% of those with an annual household income between $50,000 to $100,000. Two-thirds of Americans, or 64% with a household income above $100,000 have a valid U.S. passport, according to

As we encounter inflation, renewal may also be an expense that some citizens choose to postpone, but COVID-19 may also have been a factor.

In 2020 — as we settled into the pandemic — there were 11,711 renewals of U.S. passports compared to 20,690,491 in 2019. But at least the desire to travel overseas may be returning, as in 2021, approximately 15.5 million U.S. passports were re-issued.

When I renewed my UK passport in early 2020, the whole process was completed online, and in fact when I uploaded the passport photo, the system told me the background to the image was too light. I could save everything electronically and track progress. For a further sum, I could pay to return my expiring passport and have the replacement sent by courier, which turned out to be a good idea as my passport arrived before the pandemic hit, delaying everything. …

The renewal of my passport was essential for re-issuance of 10-year my green card — also fully completed on-line, and I was duly invited in February 2020 to visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Office in Guam (in Tiyan for local readers) to have my photo taken.

USCIS has changed tremendously since my first application for a visa in London at the U.S. Embassy, when I was asked why on earth I would want to live in Guam.

In Guam, a pleasant officer took my photo, invited me to review it — and told me I didn’t look my age.

With that happy thought in mind, I was then asked to complete a customer satisfaction survey.

My existing green card was extended for a year — just as a precaution, I was told. But due to the pandemic the new card did take several months to arrive. …


Julian Ryall, our Japan Correspondent and a fellow Brit is stuck in England — in “sunny South Devon” — for our British readers. After arriving in England in mid-March, he caught COVID after a week, and has repeatedly tested positive since then — showing that COVID and travel still require caution, vaccination and probably a certain amount of luck. The fact that he is not necessarily contagious is no consolation.  …


 My husband and I headed out finally in November 2021 and while forms and tests were tedious, the trip was smooth and worth the time, the increase in fares and the effort.

And like the Japanese in our story, we are already planning our next trip. As the summer months are just around the corner, I wish you safe travels. As usual, we welcome your stories —the good, the bad and the ugly. …


— Maureen N. Maratita is the publisher at Glimpses Media. Publications at Glimpses Media include the Marianas Business Journal, MBJ Life, The Real Estate Journal, Guam Business Magazine, Beach Road Magazine, Buenas and Drive Guam.