Have you been meaning to apply for a new passport but been stymied by your local passport office’s inconvenient operating hours? Get your birth certificate and your black ink pen ready: next month, passport agencies and post offices across the country will be celebrating Passport Day in the USA by accepting passport applications on September 17, 2011.
Right now, you’re probably asking yourself “So what? Isn’t that what passport offices are supposed to do? What’s the big deal?” Go check your calendar, though, and you’ll see that September 17th is a Saturday. All passport agency offices, which are operated by the Department of State, are generally closed on Saturday, while most post offices have limited Saturday hours and may not be available to accept passport applications.
During Passport Day in the USA, it’s much easier for people who work during normal business hours to turn in their passport applications. It’s also an excellent opportunity for parents of children under the age of 16, since both parents need to be at the passport office to give permission for the child to be issued a passport.
All twenty-four regional passport agency offices will be open on September 17th to participate. These offices are usually reserved for emergency passport applications only, for US citizens who need a passport for travel within the next two weeks. They are also usually appointment-only. However, for Passport Day, these requirements will be waived. Anyone can apply, whether they have upcoming travel plans or not, and no appointment will be needed. However, the standard processing times of six weeks for regular processing and three weeks for expedited processing will apply to all applications submitted on Passport Day.
If you need an emergency passport, you must make an appointment and apply during the week.
In addition, many local passport acceptance facilities, like post offices, libraries and court clerks, will offer extended hours for the holiday as well. To find the nearest participating location where you can submit your passport application, check the Department of State’s website. Also, be sure to research the process of applying for a passport thoroughly beforehand so that you know what documents you need to have, how much money you’ll need and what payment methods are acceptable. Call the National Passport Center at 1-877-487-2778 for clarification if you have any questions. The passport office can’t help you if you don’t have the right documentation!
Alison Kroulek is a freelance writer and blogger with a focus on the travel industry.