Modified: April 22, 2021 11:05am
Clerk advises to apply for or renew passport sooner than later
Erie County, NY- County Clerk Michael P. Kearns is alerting current passport holders whose travel documents are valid for six months or less, as well as any new passport applicants to begin the process now, even if you are not traveling internationally in the immediate future.
“The State Department recently notified us that routine processing times are now at ten to twelve weeks and expedited service is four to six weeks,” said Kearns. “Since international travel is on pause, this seems like an opportune time to begin the process for anyone needing a passport to check your current passport to see when it expires in order to avoid delays once overseas travel restrictions are lifted.”
Kearns stated there are numerous reasons for processing delays such as unprecedented mail volume and agency application centers throughout the country are limiting in-person services due to COVID-19 cases. In addition, U.S. travelers must be REAL ID compliant to board domestic flights and access certain federal facilities. Both a valid U.S. passport book and the passport card meet the new security standard that goes into effect October 1, 2021.
Recently, the Clerks’ Office was re-approved to be an official Passport Application Acceptance Agent of the United States Passport Service and staff were re-certified to be Acceptance Agents. “This is a service we provide to the citizens of Erie County that generates vital revenues which my offices gives back to the County in order to support critical services and programs,” added Kearns.
The Erie County Clerk’s Office is now open to the public and applicants can apply for a passport card, passport book or both at Old County Hall, 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo or the County Clerk’s Outreach Center, 1088 Union Road, West Seneca next to the Auto Bureau in the Southgate Plaza Monday through Friday from 9am to 4:30pm.
Payment must be in the form of check or money order. No cash or credit cards can be accepted. A certified copy of birth certificate and proof of identity such as a valid New York State driver’s license or non-driver identification card is required in order for any application to be accepted. Passport photos can be taken on-site and are available for $10.
Current passport holders with less than 6 months validity remaining on their travel document(s) must follow the instructions on how to renew their passport by mail at travel.state.gov/passports. Renewal applications must be done by mail and cannot be completed through the County Clerk’s Office.
Passport Renewal Applications are to be submitted by the individual applicant and mailed to the address on the Renewal Application Form. Applicants applying for their first passport, need assistance in the renewal application process or require expedited service due travel in less than 10-12 weeks can visit the County Clerk's Office or Outreach Center. An additional $60 fee to expedite your passport is required. Expect to receive a passport in 4-6 weeks when applying for expedited service.
“With just under six months remaining until the October 1, 2021 REAL ID Act is enforced, I encourage all travelers to obtain a REAL ID compliant driver’s license or non-driver identification card or apply for an acceptable alternative, such as a U.S. passport or passport card sooner than later through the County Clerk’s Office,” added Kearns.
Kearns also noted that processing times can change at any time so it is important that you check the status of your passport application online at travel.state.gov.
Passport applications, a list of all required documents, and fee schedule are available by visiting erie.gov/passports or by contacting the Erie County Clerk’s Outreach Center at (716) 858-8864.