The U.S. State Department is cranking up — and the added energy has little to do with the proposed Iran nuclear deal. September is Passport Awareness Month.

The Minneapolis Passport Agency is holding a Passport Day on Sat., Sept. 19. The agency usually opens only on weekdays, but will open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Passport Day. An appointment is required; obtain one by calling 1-877-487-2778. It is located in the "Old" Federal Building at 212 3rd Av. S.

Passport Days are an annual event, but this year the State Department hopes some of the millions of people needing a new little blue book will take advantage. Faced with growing demand, it has launched an "Apply Early" campaign to ward off a major application traffic jam.

The State Department issued 18 million passports in 2007, the first year U.S. citizens were required to carry one or other approved documents for air travel to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

"The Department is expecting an increase in passport applications through 2018 and encourages travelers to submit passport applications well ahead of their planned travel dates," a State Department news release says.

Applicants can receive their passports more quickly when applying between the months of September to December. Average wait time is four to six weeks, but can be as much as 10 weeks during peak times.

The State Department issued 14 million passports in 2014 and the increased demand is expected to continue through 2018.

For more information on applying, to print application forms and to find out more about the Minneapolis Passport Agency, go to

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