06.08.09

Vermont Is Getting A New Passport Office

It happens all the time in Vermont:  You’ve booked an overseas flight and days before your departure you discover your passport has expired.  The only way to make sure you get your passport renewed in time is to drive to Boston, which has the nearest Passport Agency, offering a greater range of passport services to U.S. citizens than can local clerks and post offices are able to offer.

Passport help and services in Vermont soon will be closer to home.  Senator Patrick Leahy announced that the U.S. Department of State has selected Vermont as the location of one of five new Passport Agency offices, adding to 15 already open across the country.  In addition to Vermont, new Passport Agencies will be opened in Buffalo, El Paso, Atlanta and San Diego.  The additional offices are part of State Department efforts to improve access to passport services.

Leahy, who chairs the Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on the State Department and Foreign Operations, included $15 million for the new offices in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), enacted earlier this year to help jump-start the economy with projects like these that can begin quickly.  State Department officials expect to open the new passport facilities by October 2010.  Over the next several months the Department will work with the General Services Administration (GSA) to determine the location of the new office in Vermont.

“As passports become more of a necessity, passport services need to become more convenient, and this is a big step in that direction,” said Leahy.  “This will be helpful to Vermont’s tourism, commerce and exports, as well as to our connections with our Canadian neighbors to the north.”

Beginning June 1, all U.S. citizens are now required to provide a U.S. Passport, U.S. Passport Card or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-acceptable document when travelling through land border points to and from Canada.  The demand for U.S. passports has been at historic highs over the past couple of years and is expected to remain strong.  The State Department issued a record 18.3 million passports in Fiscal Year 2007 and 16.5 million passports in Fiscal Year 2008.

All ARRA grants are posted at http://www.recovery.gov and information on this specific Passport Agency announcement is available here. 

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