My oh my passports have certainly changed in the past twenty years. The National Passport Center which is the largest passport processing center in the United States have seen a multitude of changes with forms, protocol, function, and staff; but the golden seal of the U.S. Passport has remained constant on the front of your passport. The National Passport Center was endearingly named the “pink palace” among many gvovernment employees as the primary function was to process passport renewals on a blatant pink, panther like form. The State Department created an ingenious plan to complete and handle all passport applications at one location. Annually, this location saw millions of renewal applications and was relatively short-staffed. A few years after the inception of a centralized processing hub, the State Department began to accept/issue passports for customers who submitted their application at the various non-Department acceptance facilities. In modern day time, the National Passport Center has around 800 employees which is a tremendous increase from the meager 50 employees they started with.
After 9/11, the National Passport center became the face of the Department’s efforts to facilitate passports which adhered to national security protocol and did not cause tremendous delay to the consumer. Some of the enhanced security features included a digital printed photo inside the passport book instead of the glued on photo, issuing passports to U.S. citizens living abroad, and a secure chip contained within the passport.
Another big change came to the National Passport agency when the entrance to the center was reconfigured and now allows for three public windows. This was created with a simple goal in mind: to provide the most efficient in-person passport services for any residents in New England. Prior to this local residents had to drive to the Boston Passport Agency, if they intended to apply for a passport for urgent international travel; which is defined in 14 days or less.
This Saturday March 10 you can visit any passport processing center or any other acceptance facility and have your passport documents processed on the spot. There is no need for an appointment and it’s a great family event.