BURGAW – Sharon Willoughby, Pender County Register of Deeds, urged residents requiring a passport or passport renewal to apply now.

“Due to the pandemic, we are receiving notice of processing delays from the US State Department,” said Willoughby. “We urge our residents to apply early if they have fall and winter travel plans.”

According to Congressman David Rouzer’s office, the State Department recently deemed its employees who process passports as “mission critical” employees who will return to work.

The State Department stopped processing passports on March 19 except for life and death emergencies, Rouzer reported. There is a backlog of approximately 1.7 million passports. They will start processing passports on a first in, first out basis.

“As a Passport Acceptance Facility, we will accept your completed application for a new passport and forward it to the Passport Services section of the U.S. Department of State,” said Willoughby.

Appointments are required. To schedule an appointment, call 910-259-1225. Hours of Passport Acceptance are Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., with the exceptions of holidays.

The Register of Deeds Passport Acceptance office said all applicants submitting passport application Form DS 11 must: appear in person; submit proof of U.S. citizenship (birth certificate, expired passport, naturalization certificate); and submit proof of identity (driver’s license, military ID, other government issued ID).

Passport photos are available at the Register of Deeds for a $10 free per applicant.

To follow-up the status of a passport application, Rouzer’s office recommends calling the National Passport Information Center after June 17, at 1-877-487-2778 or 1-888-874-7793.

The Register of Deeds office is located at 300 E. Fremont St. in Burgaw. For more information call 910-259-1225.

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