County clerk’s office can provide help with passports

FREEHOLD – With just weeks to go before the busy holiday travel season and upgraded international travel identification restrictions set to take effect, Monmouth County Clerk M. Claire French is reminding residents that the Monmouth County Passport Office is available to help residents get their travel documents in order.

“The county passport office is here to help,” French said. “Residents who don’t have a U.S. passport should consider applying for their passport now. You never know when you may have to travel on short notice. Residents with U.S. passports should check the expiration date and start the renewal process about two months ahead of time.”

The county clerk’s passport office advises people to apply for passports early, well before their planned departure date.

“Our office has been very successful in processing passport applications and getting them back from the passport issuing agency – the U.S. Department of State,” French said. “Our hope is to help people avoid passport-related complications with their travel plans.”

According to a press release from the county, travel identification requirements will become more stringent on Jan. 30, 2008, with return from all foreign destinations requiring a U.S. passport. This includes travel to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean.

The county clerk’s passport office staff can also troubleshoot problems with passport applications that have already been filed; those whose valid passport has been lost or stolen, or whose most recent passport was issued when the applicant was under 16 years of age.

Individuals who are interested in obtaining a passport need to show proof of U.S. citizenship, such as an original birth certificate or original naturalization certificate, as well as proof of identity such as a current driver’s license or an official military identification card. Passport applications for children require additional documentation.

Passport applications are accepted Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Monmouth County Clerk’s Passport Office is in the Market Yard in Freehold. For more information call the Monmouth County clerk’s office at (732) 431-7353 or visit the county’s Internet Web site at www.visitmonmouth. com.