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Passport Fairs in Southeast Sept. 12-13

Passport officials coming to Haines, Skagway

In an effort to ease the time-consuming and expensive process of getting a U.S. passport in the communities of Haines and Skagway, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich announced special passport fairs have been arranged in the communities. The Skagway fair is Saturday, Sept. 12, followed by one Sunday, Sept. 13 in Haines.

"This is a unique opportunity to bring government directly to help the people," Sen. Begich said. "I commend and thank the staff at the Department of State Seattle Passport Office for responding to the needs of the citizens in Haines and Skagway."

As of June 1, 2009, the law changed requiring U.S. citizens to present a passport book, card or other approved travel documents to enter the United States from Canada. This presented a problem for residents in Haines and Skagway without passports as roads to their communities run through Canada. The nearest passport acceptance office has been in Juneau, which is a time-consuming and expensive trip.

Shortly after taking office in January, Sen. Begich's office began hearing of the concerns of Alaskans in these Southeast communities and began working with the U.S. Department of State to establish passport acceptance offices in each community, but in the meantime, offer a passport fair for residents to apply for passports. Plans for the acceptance offices are still being finalized.

·         The Skagway Passport Fair is Saturday, Sept. 12 from 9 am - 5 pm at the Skagway Assembly Chambers.
·         The Haines Passport Fair is Sunday, Sept. 13 from 9 am - 5 pm at the Haines Assembly Chambers.

Applicants can download an application from www.travel.state.gov

Applicants should come to the fair with a completed passport application form, evidence of U.S. citizenship such as a birth certificate, photo identification with a photocopy of the id, check or money order payment to the U.S. Department of State, and two identical passport photos. The passport photographer business in each town has been notified; applicants are encouraged to make appointments for their photos as soon as possible.

"Because Haines and Skagway are border towns where residents have to cross through Canada to drive out, having a passport is essential. With these fairs in the communities, the residents won't have to get to Juneau to have their paperwork processed," Begich said.

Applicants with questions can call Sen. Begich's Juneau office at (907) 586-7700.

Posted Sept. 9, 2009

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