An exodus of passport seekers from the mainland has been choosing Langley City Hall as the destination to renew their important travel documents.
Last fall, Bob Herzberg, the city’s passport agent, noticed that more people than usual were boarding the ferry to get their passport applications processed because of a shortage of appointments at acceptance facilities on the mainland.
In recent months, that demand has only risen.
Six months ago, Herzberg said he was surprised six months ago if he got five phone calls in a day from off-island passport seekers. Now, he said he can get up to 30 calls per day from them.
The National Passport Center has been directing people to Langley.
In neighboring Snohomish County, there are a few post offices open where passports can also be processed, but appointments are currently booked out months in advance, Herzberg said.
Appointments at Langley City Hall are booked through the end of May. Thursday is the only day of the week appointments can be scheduled for.
“The warning needs to get out there to folks,” Herzberg said. “A lot of people are unaware that there’s this sort of demand.”
Processing time of the documents is taking longer than usual because of mail delays, with regular applications taking 10-12 weeks and expedited ones taking 4-6 weeks.
Under normal circumstances, regular applications are supposed to take 4-6 weeks and expedited ones 2-3 weeks.
“People really need to start to look at their passports and future plans,” even for passport renewals, Herzberg said.
It might seem strange that so many people are looking for a passport during a global pandemic. Herzberg said a lot of people he has talked to are preparing for when things are open again.
Another common story he might hear is of someone who has agreed to attend a wedding in a resort area in Mexico, where things are currently open for visitors.
“All of a sudden people are really excited they can go somewhere,” Herzberg said.
This story originally appeared in the South Whidbey Record, a sister publication to The Herald.