If you’re planning to travel abroad this summer and need to obtain or renew your passport, be forewarned: As the number of travelers rebounds to pre-pandemic levels, passport applications are backed up, and the U.S. State Department predicts the number of passports issued will top the 22 million issued last year.
News reports tell of passengers from coast to coast forced to re-schedule or forego travel altogether because their passport applications were not processed in time. But help in alleviating the backup in applying for a passport is available at the University of Louisville’s International Center, home to Passport Place.
The recently opened Passport Place was created as part of the International Center’s work to help students, faculty and staff navigate the requirements for traveling abroad. Though Passport Place has seen steady growth, its ability to accept passport applications has never been limited to only those with UofL connections.
“We are authorized by the Department of State to help all eligible U.S. citizens apply for a passport, whether they are affiliated with UofL or not,” said Kristin Samer, marketing coordinator and Passport Acceptance Agent at UofL’s International Center. “For the same $35 fee charged at post offices and other facilities that provide passports, we can take your application and submit it; all fees collected go to support international education at UofL.”
“While we can’t change the (State Department’s) processing time, we are able to assist right away and get most applications sent out the same day. And, unlike other facilities, no appointment is necessary; we take walk-ins.”
Samer said Passport Place’s ability to speed up the application process is probably due to the public’s lack of knowledge of its existence. “People at UofL know us, of course, but the general public does not,” she said. “That void of information creates capacity.”
The facility is included on the State Department’s list of offices where passport applications can be filed, however, leading to a trickle of people already finding it. “We even had a family come up from Nashville to apply for their passports with us because we were the only place taking walk-in appointments in the region, and they found out about us on the State Department website.
“We’ve heard the horror stories about other facilities. People have tried scheduling appointments weeks out, and then the facility cancelled them the day of the appointment because there are too many applications to process or an acceptance agent isn’t there to assist with the application. These problems have not occurred at Passport Place,” she said. “The staff is well-trained, friendly and extremely knowledgeable. We have a waiting room with coffee, coloring books for children and comfortable seating. We believe these factors are what differentiates the Passport Place at UofL from other Passport Acceptance Facilities.”
Is Samer worried that getting the word out will lead to overrunning Passport Place’s ability to speedily submit passport applications? “We’ll cross that bridge if we have to,” she said, “but right now we have the capacity to process many applications each day.”
Passport Place is open six days a week, Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. It is located in the UofL International Center at 2220 E. Centennial Walk off Third Street. During the week, parking is available for a fee in the Speed Art Museum Garage on Third Street. On Saturdays, the gated lot next to the center is open and parking is free.
For details on what you need to apply for a U.S. passport, go to the State Department website, “How to Apply for a Passport” or contact Passport Place at 502-852-0300 or email@example.com. Currently, the State Department recommends you apply for your passport six months in advance of your trip out of the country.