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From the Travel Desk: Processing of passports continues

  • Article by: KERRI WESTENBERG
  • Star Tribune
  • October 4, 2013 - 1:23 PM

Awaiting a passport for your Thanksgiving weekend dash to Paris or your Mexican escape from early winter chill? Despite the federal government’s partial shutdown, you’ll likely get your passport without undue delay. Likewise, citizens overseas can still turn to their nearest embassy for services.

Passports, consular services and visas are all “fee-funded activities,” according to a State Department official. In other words, congressional appropriations have very little to do with it. The money you pony up to get a passport — as much as $135 for a passport book for first-time applicants — keeps the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs hard at work.

According to the official, processing time for passports stands at about four weeks, and that won’t change due to the shutdown, either.

In Minneapolis, the Passport Agency in the “Old” Federal Building at 212 3rd Av. S. remains open. The agency issues both passport books and the less expensive passport cards, which can be used at land crossings. (Call 1-877-487-2778 to make an appointment; despite what the automated appointment system says, travel plans are not required when applying at the Minneapolis office. A $60 expedited fee will be charged at the agency.)

The State Department website — at www.travel.state.gov — is bullish on its ability to serve, saying that “passport operations, visa operations, and critical assistance to U.S. citizens overseas continue.”

My D.C.-based State Department source was upbeat, too. But when I asked last Wednesday what would happen in the event of a prolonged shutdown, he said, “We are in Day 1.”

 

Send questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.

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