Travelers desperate for passports converge on St. Albans

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 12:09 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2021 at 7:04 PM EDT
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ST. ALBANS, Vt. (WCAX) - People from other states are flocking to northern Vermont to score passports. The U.S. Passport Agency in St. Albans is one of just a few offices in the country that issues same-day passports to walk-in applicants.

Thursday until about 1 p.m., there was a massive line wrapped around the building. We counted 50 people in line at one point. And it wasn’t just Vermonters. It was people from all across the country, as far away as Texas.

It was an unusually busy day at the Vermont passport agency. Dozens of people from out of state stood in line for hours hoping to get their passports quickly.

“The flight’s tomorrow, so we need it,” said Lyudmila Pitts of Amherst, Massachusetts.

“I have a trip. I leave out tomorrow morning,” said Kevin Wade of San Antonio, Texas.

“Next weekend,” said Richard Smith of Queens, New York.

They say they tried the traditional process first which involves submitting an application at a regional facility and getting the passport by mail. But they haven’t arrived.

“My passport’s been in process for over six weeks now already through the regular process, so this was like the last chance,” Smith said. “You can’t get into the office in New York or anywhere else.”

“I actually sent it off in time but they denied my picture because the Walmart photographer didn’t know how to take a passport picture,” Wade said.

That’s when they decided to find a way around it. They say they Googled which passport agencies in the country allow walk-ins and found only Hawaii and Vermont do.

“We’re not working with much here. Yeah, yeah. The rest of them, it’s all appointments or send it in,” said James Pitts of Amherst, Massachusetts.

So, with limited options, they hopped in their cars and drove to Vermont from New York, Massachusetts, even Texas. Some spent the night outside of the passport agency while others arrived first thing in the morning.

“But we were late compared to everybody else. In hindsight, we should’ve been here at 6:30 or 6,” James Pitts said.

Most people got in but a handful of people were turned away at 1 p.m. when the office could no longer accommodate the number of requests.

Those who were denied say they’ll be back.

“We’ll stay the night and we’ll get in tomorrow,” James Pitts said. “We need the passports.”

We did try to interview the employees at the agency but they referred us to the headquarters in Washington, D.C. We made several attempts to contact them but were unsuccessful.

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