Apr 13, 2023 - News

Utah leaders ask for SLC passport office as demand grows

Illustration of a passport surrounded by geometric shapes and lines.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Utah's congressional delegation sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week calling for a passport agency in Salt Lake City amid "unprecedented" demand.

The big picture: The State Department advised travelers last month to renew their passports ahead of what’s expected to be the "busiest summer travel season on record."

  • Processing has been delayed since March 24, with a 10- to 13-week estimated turnaround for routine applications and seven to nine weeks for expedited requests, per the State Department.

Zoom in: After filing paperwork to obtain a passport for his father, Draper resident Kent Ma told Axios he fears the holdup could prevent them from traveling to Vietnam in August.

  • "That's probably going to push the trip," he said.

Between the lines: The nearest passport agencies are in California and Colorado, a State Department map shows.

What they're saying: "Over the past several weeks, residents of Utah have seen passport processing grind to a near halt, greatly disrupting travel plans and other aspects of daily life in our state," the letter reads.

State of play: In the letter, lawmakers said their offices are struggling to handle the immense volume of emergency requests to process passports due to delays.

  • Last year, the U.S. Senate passed a defense bill that could open the door for a passport agency in Utah.
  • The legislation charges the secretary of state to identify areas in the U.S. that have high demand for passport processing but no quick or easy way to do it in person, according to the bill.

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