FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 3, 2007

CONTACT: Tom Plante, 908-527-4746, tplante@ucnj.org
Joanne Rajoppi, Union County Clerk, 908-527-4787

 

Apply for Passports Now to Avoid Holiday 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 winter holiday travel plans. With significant changes in U.S. passport laws now in effect, holiday travelers to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and countries in the Caribbean must have a valid passport to enter or depart from the United States.

“Because of the new federal passport regulations and the approaching winter holidays, there’s an increased demand for new documents from the federal passport agency,” Rajoppi said. “It can take six to eight weeks – up to two full months – for a regular passport application to be processed and returned to the customer. And even the more expensive expedited delivery option can take three weeks for delivery, so don’t wait until the last minute to get your passport.”

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 http://www.ucnj.org/ctyclerk/passport.html.

“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 six to eight 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.