Mercer County Clerk Advises Residents to Apply for Passports Early

If you’re planning to travel out of the country, start thinking about your passport. County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello recommends that Mercer County residents request new passports well in advance of their anticipated departure dates, due to a high volume of applications during the summer months this year. Residents are encouraged to check the expiration dates of their passports, if planning on traveling at any time in the near future.

While routine applications for US passports are usually processed within four weeks, the summer travel season accounts for a larger volume of passport applications.  This year, the Office is seeing a higher volume than usual and suggests residents apply at least six to eight weeks in advance of travel.

“The US State Department is so busy with passports during the summer months that it is difficult to track even the location of a passport order before a minimum of three weeks.  If traveling in late summer or the fall, please get your application in right away,” advises County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello.

To apply for a US Passport, residents need:  1) Proof of US citizenship in the form of a state certified birth certificate, a US naturalization certificate or a previous US Passport; 2) Proof of identity in the form of a current driver’s license or state issued identification card.

A US Passport is valid for ten years for adults and five years for minors. The cost for a passport is $110 for adults and $80 for minors plus a processing fee of $25. The federal government requires a separate check for each passport application. Passport photos may be taken on-site for $15 or $10 for senior citizens and minors under 16.  The Clerk’s Office accepts checks or money orders for payment (so two checks are recommended).

The U.S. Department of State requires the full names of a passport applicant’s parents to be listed on all certified birth certificates to be considered as primary evidence of U.S. citizenship. This requirement applies to all U.S. Passport applicants, regardless of their age. Under the Federal mandate, certified birth certificates missing parental information may not be accepted as proof of U.S. citizenship.

For children under age 16, Federal passport guidelines now require both parents to appear in-person, – or one parent in-person with a notarized federal consent form from the absent parent.

The Mercer County Clerk’s office processes US Passport applications on a regular basis, Monday through Friday during regular business hours at the County Clerk’s Office, 209 South Broad Street in Trenton with late hours on Wednesday.  In addition, residents can also apply for a US Passport at the Mercer County Connection located at the Hamilton Square Shopping Center, Route 33 & Paxson Avenue in Hamilton Township.  The County Connection satellite office offers additional evening hours and Saturday hours for the convenience of Mercer County residents. Passport photos are available at both locations.

The Mercer County Clerk’s Office will also be taking its passport services on the road to three municipal buildings this Fall. We are visiting Princeton on September 16th, Ewing Township on September 23rd, and East Windsor Municipal Building on October 7th.  Our staff will be on hand from 3pm from 7pm to process applications and photos will also be available on site.

Lastly, the County Clerk’s Office also offers County ID cards and Veteran ID cards in our Trenton office.  These are not useful for air travel, but may serve as personal identification cards at a minimal cost.

For further information on US Passport requirements, or for information on ID cards, residents should and click on County Clerk, General Info, or call (609) 989-6473.

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