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City Of Albany Now Offers Passport Service

City Clerk Danielle Gillespie with Mayor Kathy Sheehan and members of the Albany Common Council give the media a tour of City Hall's new passport accepatance facility.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
City Clerk Danielle Gillespie with Mayor Kathy Sheehan and members of the Albany Common Council give the media a tour of City Hall's new passport accepatance facility.

Applying for a passport in the city of Albany just got a whole lot easier.

Mayor Kathy Sheehan and City Clerk Danielle Gillespie the launch of Albany's new passport acceptance facility at city hall.  "This is about recognizing that in order to get a passport you need a birth certificate, so we have people who come here, they pick up that birth certificate, and then they have to make another stop. So, this will allow them to be able to apply for that passport right here, it's just another service that we are providing here at City Hall to try to address the needs of our residents."

The mayor adds her staff has had to go through a number of steps to obtain certification.   "That certification process is now complete, we're up and running and ready to go."

Gillepsie, who formerly served as Director of Vital Statistics, says Albany's passport services come at a time of airport expansion and increasing tourism.  "A lot of customers came in and expressed their frustration that they would have to come and see us first and then travel up to New Karner Road to complete the application process. So under the leadership of the mayor, the great leaders of the Common Council, Vital Statistics and the City Clerk's office collaborated and we decided to work collectively to offer this great new service to citizens, because under this administration we're trying to do citizen-centric service and the things that make the most sense for the residents in Albany."

Gillepsie notes that people in surrounding cities and towns can also use the service, available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Appointments are optional.   "It is a one-stop shop. if you are born in the city of Albany you can come upstairs, you can get your birth certificate. We also have a state-of-the-art camera, we are able to take passport photos and print the photos and affix the photos to your application."

Five fully-trained acceptance agents are skilled in working with secure information. Everything is strictly on paper; no data is entered online. Gillespie says processing time averages 10 to 20 minutes. As for the fees:  "You have an acceptance fee and then you have the fee that you send to the United States Department of State. They will accept a check. We will not. We encourage all potential applicants to come in with cash. In a month or so we'll have the ability to take credit card payments, but right now it's cash only or a money order made payable to the City of Albany. $35 to process the application. An additional 10 if you need us to take the photo. And then a separate money order or check made payable to the United States Department of State, and if you have any questions regarding fees you can check the city website or you can give us a call."

Passport services is located in the City Clerk’s office on the second floor at City Hall.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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