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County clerk advises residents to apply for passports well in advance

Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon is advising residents to apply for passports well in advance of any planned travel because the U.S. Department of State is experiencing significant passport processing delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, the Department of State largely shut down its passport processing services to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the suspension of expedited passport processing and the restriction of service to cases involving life-or-death emergencies only, according to a press release from Hanlon’s office.

According to the Department of State, a backlog of passport applications
accumulated during the temporary closure, resulting in 1.23 million applicants
awaiting passport issuance, as of July 22.

Expedited service continues to be suspended and the State Department has not provided an estimate of time for routine passport service, according to the press release.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in a large backlog of passport applications
to the U.S. Department of State, I encourage all residents to apply for a passport well
in advance of any planned travel,” Hanlon said.

“In addition, many countries require six months validity on a U.S. passport, so it is critical to check the expiration date in advance if you already have a passport,” she said.

Monmouth County residents can apply for a passport at the county clerk’s two passport offices. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the two offices are currently operating by an appointment only basis; appointments can be scheduled by calling the offices.

Also, the Monmouth County Connection office in Neptune has updated business hours until further notice.

• Freehold Borough – Monmouth County Clerk’s Office in the Market Yard (south of Main Street). The hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 732-431-7324 to schedule an appointment.

• Neptune – Monmouth County Connection, 3544 Route 66 (near Home Depot). The hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call 732-303-2828 to schedule an appointment.

To obtain a passport, it is necessary to have a certified birth certificate with a raised
seal, a Social Security number, a passport photo 2×2 inches in size, and current
identification such as a driver’s license or government identification.

Passport photos are available for a fee of $10 at both locations, according to the press release.

Parents who are making a passport application for a child under the age of 16 are
required to appear together or submit additional documentation.

“Make sure to contact the passport office prior to appearing at a county clerk
passport office to schedule an appointment and to confirm that you have the proper
documentation and payments,” Hanlon said.

For more information about applying for a passport, visit the Monmouth County Clerk’s webpage at MonmouthCountyClerk.com or contact the passport office in Freehold Borough at 732-431-7324 or the Monmouth County Connection in Neptune at 732-303-2828.

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