Trying to get a passport in New Mexico? You’re not alone in your frustration. A flood of passport applications has overwhelmed post offices across the state. Here’s how to cut through the red tape and get your passport fast!
The Real ID Act: Do You Need a Passport for Domestic Flights?
Why is it so hard to get a passport in New Mexico all of the sudden? On January 10th, the government was expected to begin fully enforcing the Real ID Act, a law passed in the wake of the September 11 attacks to make driver’s licenses and state IDs more secure.
New Mexico driver’s licenses are not compliant with the Real ID Act. If the law were being fully enforced, a New Mexico driver’s license would no longer be accepted to board domestic flights.
At the last minute, on January 8th, the Department of Homeland Security announced that they would continue accepting New Mexico driver’s licenses until January 22, 2018.
That means you do not need a passport for a domestic flight.
Local Post Offices Run Out of Passport Appointments
Since DHS waited until the last minute to back down, thousands of New Mexico residents panicked and tried to apply for passports.
In just two weeks in late November/early December 2015, the State Department received 2,000 applications from the Albuquerque area. That’s a lot of applications in a short period of time. In fact, in all of 2014, they received 7,000 passport applications from the same area.
New Mexico post offices are feeling the crunch. By November 14th, all Albuquerque post offices were booked solid for passport appointments until February!
How to Get a Passport Appointment in New Mexico
So, how do you apply for a passport if you can’t get an appointment?
First, determine whether or not you actually need an appointment. The following circumstances ALWAYS require an appointment:
- Getting a new passport if you’ve never had one before.
- Getting a child passport for a minor under the age of 16.
- Replacing a lost or stolen passport.
If you’re applying for a passport renewal, you don’t need an appointment as long as all of the following statements are true:
- Your last passport has not been lost, stolen or damaged.
- Your last passport was issued to you after you turned 16.
- Your name hasn’t changed since your last passport was issued, or if it has, you have appropriate legal documentation for your new name.
Next, since Homeland Security has decided to allow New Mexico driver’s licenses for domestic flights, some people who currently have appointments will probably cancel them. So, if you can’t get a timely appointment the first time you call, you might try again later.
If your local post office doesn’t have any appointments, use the search page located here to find other passport acceptance offices within driving distance.
How to Get a Passport in New Mexico in a Hurry
But what if you’re in a hurry? If your itinerary will take you out of the country in the next two weeks (or the next four weeks if you also need a visa), you can apply at a Regional Passport Agency. These offices are operated by the Department of State to assist people with emergency passport needs. Unfortunately, there are no passport agencies in New Mexico. However, there are three in adjoining states:
Colorado Passport Agency
Address: Cherry Creek III
3151 South Vaughn Way, Suite 600
Aurora, CO 80014
Appointment Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday: 8:00am to 2:00pm
Thursday: 10:00am to 2:00pm
El Paso Passport Agency
Address: Anson Mills Building
303 N. Oregon St.
El Paso, TX 79901
Appointment Hours: Monday-Friday: 7:30am to 4:00pm
Western Passport Center
Address: 7373 East Rosewood Street
Tucson, AZ 85710
Appointment Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday: 8:30am to 3:00pm
Thursday: 9:30 am ot 3:00pm
As you can see, these passport agencies have limited operating times. Additionally, you could have to drive hours to get to one. Not convenient at all!
If you can’t make it to a passport agency, you do have options. An expediting company like RushMyPassport can hand-carry your application to the Department of State, for processing in as little as 24 hours.
If you are required to submit your passport application in person, you’ll still have to go and get your documents “sealed.” Still, if you’re in a hurry, an expediting service can minimize the amount of time you have to wait for your passport, without requiring you to travel to a passport agency in another state.
Need a passport in a hurry? We can help. Click here and follow our easy 3-step ordering process to get your passport application processed in as little as one business day!