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Higgins, Buffalo Passport Agency invite public to special 'Passport Day' as agency celebrates 5th anniversary

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Wed, Oct 14th 2015 02:45 pm
Congressman Brian Higgins speaks as Buffalo Passport Agency Director James Theis listens.
Congressman Brian Higgins speaks as Buffalo Passport Agency Director James Theis listens.

Office open for passport services this Saturday

Congressman Brian Higgins joined Buffalo Passport Agency Director James Theis to announce a special "Passport Day" celebration in honor of the Buffalo Passport Agency's five-year anniversary.

The public is invited to visit the Buffalo Passport Agency from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, to apply for or renew their passport. No prior appointment is needed for this event. The Buffalo Passport Agency is located at 111 Genesee St., Suite 101, Buffalo.

"Five years ago, people traveling for emergency reasons or otherwise in need of a passport quickly would call our office, and the best we could do is assist with coordination of an appointment all the way across the state," Higgins said Tuesday. "As home to four of the nation's busiest border crossings, the Buffalo-Niagara region sits within a 500-mile radius of 55 percent of the American population and is certainly a fitting location for a passport agency. Today, we are fortunate to have this resource here in Western New York and we encourage the community to seek out these services at this special event and when otherwise needed."

Passport Agency Director James Theis said, "The agency will be open on Saturday, Oct. 17, to mark our fifth anniversary in Buffalo, and to give people an opportunity to apply for passports on a weekend when we are normally closed. We anticipate a significant increase in passport demand over the next two years, especially during the spring and summer months, when most people travel. We urge people to apply early. Fall and winter are the best times to apply for faster service. We urge everyone to take advantage of this special weekend opportunity to apply for or renew their passport."

Higgins led the fight to bring a passport facility to Western New York. Prior to the opening of the Buffalo Agency in 2010, only 14 passport agencies were available nationwide. Western New Yorkers in urgent need of a passport would be required to travel to the nearest site in New York City.

In its first five years, the Buffalo Passport Agency has adjudicated more than 400,000 passport applications, including nearly 50,000 applications at its public counter. Over that time, the staff size has grown from 35 employees to 50.

The Passport Day event, hosted in coordination with the U.S. State Department's "Apply Early" initiative, focuses on encouraging travelers to apply for a passport well ahead of their travel date.

For information on requirements, applications, fees and other information, visit Travel.State.Gov/ApplyEarly or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778/1-888-874-7793 (TTY/TTD).

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