03.04.11

Leahy: New Vermont Passport Office Will Aid Vermonters’ Travel, Facilitate Vermont Commerce And Cement Vermont’s Bonds To Canada

ST. ALBANS, Vt. (FRIDAY, March 4) – U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Friday joined senior U.S. State Department officials and other dignitaries to officially open the new Vermont Passport Agency office in St. Albans.    

The new office is in the old Post Office Building on South Main Street.  The renovation of the 6,650 square-foot facility was funded with $2.3 million of the $15 million for new Passport Agencies that Leahy included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – the economic stimulus bill of 2009.    

“This new office will save countless Vermonters the long drive to Boston and back to iron out their passport issues.  And with the border so close, the value of having this facility here in Vermont is clear,” said Leahy, who chairs the Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on the State Department and Foreign Operations that oversees U.S. passport operations.  “When we were working on the economic stimulus bill, it made perfect sense to me to include funds for these ready-to-go passport facilities.  I’m delighted that this is only the second Passport Agency to be opened across the country with these funds.  Jobs have come with building this facility, and jobs are built into its ongoing service to Vermonters.  This facility will contribute to our economy on into the future, here in St. Albans and beyond.  In the bargain, we are preserving a piece of St. Albans’ historic downtown.”

In its first year, the Vermont Passport Agency will issue U.S. passport books and passport cards onsite to qualifying customers who plan to travel within 14 days or have a life or death emergency, and the State Department projects that the Vermont Passport Agency will issue 15,000 passports, including 2,500 to customers served at its public counters.

Leahy announced late in 2009 that the State Department had selected St. Albans as the location for one of five new Passport Agencies, adding to 15 agencies already open across the country.  Until now, the closest passport office for Vermonters has been Boston’s.  

Since June 1, 2009, all U.S. citizens have been required to provide a U.S. Passport, U.S. Passport Card or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-acceptable document when traveling through land and sea border points from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.  The demand for U.S. passports has been at historic highs over the past couple of years and is expected to remain strong. 

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