Post offices across the Bay Area are seeing long lines as people scurry to get passports, but many are being turned away because the clerks can handle only so many applicants on any given day.
An increasing number of new United States citizens and the summer travel season are boosting the demand for passports, and people sometimes don’t realize they may need to wait six weeks before their passports arrive.
The bustling post office on Meridian Avenue in San Jose can serve only 50 to 70 people a day.
“My wife just got her citizenship so we’re here to get her passport,” said applicant Damir Gojic.
Thursday was an exception, as nearly 100 people made it through the line. But post office staff is regularly forced to turn people away at the end of the day.
Some even line up at 7 a.m. on Saturdays, waiting for the doors to open at 10 a.m.
“Well, I have no choice,” applicant Tres Padayao said. “I need a passport. I just wait.”
Gojic agreed, saying: “You have to. If you want to travel, it’s what [you’ve] got to do.”
The post office suggests applicants make appointments to assure them a spot, but even that takes time.
“We’re being inundated with a lot of people at the very last minute, thinking they only have a week or two and they’ll be OK – but it’s not,” said U.S. Post Office spokesman Agustin Ruiz.
To avoid more delays, people are asked to download the passport application and fill it out before the appointment. Renewals can also be requested online, but only if certain requirements are met, officials said.
The passport office also said both parents need to be present with a birth certificate in hand, if the applicant is a child.