March 14, 2007

CONTACT: Tom Plante, 908-527-4746,
Joanne Rajoppi, Union County Clerk, 908-527-4787


New Federal Regulations Create Passport Backlog:
Apply for Passports Now to Avoid Travel Snags
County Clerk’s Offices in Westfield and Elizabeth
Have Convenient Hours for Passport Applicants

Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi reminds county residents to apply for their passports as soon as possible to avoid any complications that may disrupt their summer travel plans. With significant changes in U.S. passport laws now in effect, the federal agency responsible for issuing passports is experiencing unexpected delays in processing applications.

“Because of the new federal passport regulations, the increased demand for new documents has created a slower response time from the federal passport agency,” Rajoppi said. “It now can take as much as twelve weeks – three full months – for a regular passport application to be processed and returned to the customer. Even the more expensive expedited delivery option can take five weeks or more for delivery.”

Passport application forms may be obtained at the County Clerk’s main office in the Union County Courthouse at 2 Broad Street in Elizabeth or at the County Clerk’s office annex at 300 North Avenue East in Westfield. Applications for passports and related information also can be found online at

“Our Elizabeth office opens at 7:30 a.m. and it has experienced, helpful, English, Spanish and Portuguese-speaking staff ready to assist you in any way we can,” Rajoppi said. “Our Westfield office has convenient night hours and is fully staffed also.”

The Westfield Annex is the only County Clerk’s office in the state that is open during evening hours. The Westfield Annex is open from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Fridays. The phone number at the Westfield Annex is 908-654-9859.

The Elizabeth office is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The phone number in Elizabeth is 908-527-4966.

Clients are asked to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to closing time to allow for staff assistance with the passport process.

Passport customers should allow a sufficient amount of time to mail their application and receive their passport before traveling. Please allow up to twelve weeks for routine processing of passport applications.

New federal regulations stipulate that a passport is required for all air and sea travel to or from the United States. This is a change from prior requirements which in most cases allowed travel with a driver’s license or a birth certificate. By January 1, 2008, a passport will be required for all air, sea and land border crossings in the Western Hemisphere.

For domestic travel within the United States, teenagers who are older than 13 years of age and adults who don’t have a driver’s license can obtain a Union County photo identification card at the Union County Clerk’s office. Applicants for a photo identification card must bring their original birth certificate and proof of residency with them to the Clerk’s Office.

For more information about obtaining a U.S. passport, please call
(908) 527-4966.