Hurricane Harvey Is Delaying Expedited US Passports
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Just as the US State Department deals with a surge in demand for passports, two major passport-issuing offices have closed down, one as a direct casualty of Hurricane Harvey. This could cause significant problems for US citizens who applied or want to apply for an expedited passport or need a fast renewal.
Here’s what’s going on: back on April 23, the Miami Passport Agency office sustained “significant water damage.” For the last four months, that office has been closed until further notice for “damage assessment and repairs.” During this time, the Miami Passport Agency office has set up a temporary location but has been sending its passport applications to the Houston Passport Agency office.
You might see where this is going.
Due to the massive flooding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey, the Houston office is closed for its own weather-related issues. A notice on the Houston Passport Agency’s website notes that the office is closed through Monday, September 4. However, as with the Houston airports, this reopen date might get delayed further. Thankfully, the Houston Passport Agency office is located on the fourth floor, and there hasn’t been any reported damage to the office.
We found out about this situation thanks to our friends at Allied Passport & Visa. The Points Guy was working with the service to secure a second passport for upcoming travel when he found out that their expedited services aren’t going to be as fast as normal due to the hurricane damage.
Let’s hear their take on the situation:
United States citizens looking to apply for a passport renewal, new passport or second passport can apply wherever most convenient to them. If you have applied or plan on applying for regular processing passport service through ANY agency Allied Passport does not expect any significant delays.
However, for travelers looking for emergency processing for travel within a few days they might be out of luck as most visa service agencies have already filled their slots (such as New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles etc.) from other visa companies shifting their processing from Houston to other areas of the country.
For travelers in such a bind, and not within driving distance to apply in person at an agency, Allied Passport recommends calling other private visa & passport companies around the country to see if they have any expedited slots still available. Allied Passport is one of those services that is not accepting any expedited USA passport orders until mid-next week.
Note that there are still ways of getting an emergency passport within 72 hours. If you’re faced with a “life and death emergency,” you can call 1-877-487-2778 (or 1-888-874-7793 TTY/TDD) to make an appointment for an emergency passport. However, you’re going to have to head to one of the passport agency offices (other than Houston or Miami) for your appointment. Life and death emergencies are defined as “serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family that require you to travel outside the United States.”
Featured image by Bet_Noire / Getty Images.
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