Post office offers passport service

November 03, 2003|GARY MOYERS

The local road to international travel now leads through the Danville Post Office.

The local office is a "one-stop" shop for travelers who need a passport. The service began last week, and postmaster Don Hopper said workers have already processed six applications.

"I think it's going to be a popular addition for our customers," said Hopper. "Before, people who needed passports had only the courthouse as a local source, and they couldn't get their passport photo taken there. Now they can come to the post office and do the entire process, from application and photo right through to the oath."

Hopper said this is the first time the Danville Post Office has offered the passport service. "We asked to do the service when we opened the new facility 18 months ago, but we were turned down," he said.


"I've worked the window for 18 years, and I've gotten requests for passport information pretty much at least once a day," said Sharon Robertson, who handles the passport duties with Robin Hall. Both had to undergo training and background checks to serve as passport officers. "We get a lot of requests from students at Centre College, and I think that's going to be a good service for them."

Hall said the process begins with an application, and people wishing passports must produce picture identification and a birth certificate - the real one, not a copy.

"It's gotten a lot stricter since the Homeland Security Act was passed," said Hopper.

The application is completed and signed, witnessed by one of the notarized clerks, and the picture is then taken.

"There are very specific guidelines about the photo, and the State Department won't accept an application with an improper photo," said Robertson.

The application, along with the birth certificate, is then mailed to the State Department office in New Orleans for approval. The passport and birth certificate are mailed via certified mail back to the applicant, usually in five weeks.

The whole procedure costs $97, Hall said, much of that as fees to various government agencies. Requests for expedited passports, returned in two weeks, cost $187.

"You wouldn't believe how many people come in here asking for a passport, and say they're going on a trip in two weeks and have to ask for the expedited service," said Robertson. "If you plan properly and do it in advance, you can save yourself a whole lot of money."

The Danville Post Office offers the passport service Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

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