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Need a passport? No problem

By Staff | Nov 27, 2015

The Faribault County Courthouse is now a one-stop shop for anyone in need of a passport.

For more than a year the Faribault County Recorder’s office has been taking applications for passports, something they have not always been able to do.

Prior to July 2014, anyone in the county had to go elsewhere to obtain or renew a passport due to a regulation set in May of 2011. That regulation stated that offices who held birth certificate records could not also offer passport services.

Faribault County Recorder Sherry Asmus explained that this was due to the fact that they were trying to prevent fraud.

However, in July 2014 they were officially able to offer passports again.

“The last federal fiscal year, we accepted 188 applications,”?Asmus says.

The initial start up last year had left them without the proper equipment to take passport photos on location. But, that has changed too.

“Sometime in the fall of 2014 we also started taking the passport photos,”?Asmus explains. “So, if the person was born in Minnesota, they can get their birth certificate here and complete the passport application in one stop.”

This was a missed convenience when the county was no longer able to process passport applications, according to Asmus.

“It is great to be able to offer this level of service here, rather than sending people out of the county,”?she adds.

Passport services are available from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays. And prior to coming in, the office has just a few suggestions for applicants.

“Before a customer comes in to apply, we recommend making an appointment,”?Asmus says.

Making appointments is not required but strongly recommended so that they office can make sure there is adequate staff available to help with the process.

“They (applicants) should also have a certified copy of their birth certificate, their driver’s license and a checkbook.”

She goes on to explain that Faribault County’s passport service does not accept cash or credit/debit cards for this process.

Asmus says that fees for a passport change and applicants curious about the cost for a passport or the renewal of a passport should contact the Passport Services office in Faribault County or go to travel.state.gov for the most up to date information on fees.

“Routine process time is six weeks or less,”?Asmus says.

So, people should plan ahead if they want to travel. However there are other options.

“If a person needs a passport sooner than that, they can pay an expedite fee of $60 plus express mail fees to get it in three weeks or less,”?Asmus explains. “If that is still not fast enough, they can schedule an appointment with the Passport Agency in Minneapolis, pay an expedite fee, and get a passport in days, providing they have proof of travel in the specified time period.”

Asmus also adds to avoid a back up when renewing a passport, applicants who applied for a passport in 2007 should renew by the end of 2016.

“If you applied during our peak year, you should renew by the end of 2016 to prevent backlogs like we experienced in 2007,” Asmus says.

In most cases, people can renew on their own with a DS-82 form, a new picture and their current passport.

“This saves them the $25 fee paid to the county,”?she explains. “We can certainly help with the pictures for renewals, too.”

And, lately another form of ID has been a hot topic in the news and hasn’t gone unnoticed in Faribault County.

“With all the publicity enhanced driver’s licenses have received, we have had many phone calls about them,”?Asmus says.

However, the federal government has yet to make any final decisions regarding this requirement.

“There has not been any formal announcement when or if this requirement will go into effect,”?Asmus says.

However, Faribault County has the issue on their radar and offers a suggestion to those wondering about traveling and enhanced licenses.

“A passport card is an excellent option,”?she says. “It meets Federal TSA?requirements for domestic travel and allows you to travel by land or sea to Canada or Mexico. It is also less expensive than a traditional passport and fits in your wallet.”

Those interested in applying for a passport card to make traveling in those situations a little easier can do so in Faribault County as well.

“We take applications for the passport card, too,”?Asmus says. “It can be done at the same time as the passport or separately. If it is applied for at the same time as a passport, the applicant only has to pay one $25 fee to the county.”