Passport answers in Duluth

In an effort to explain the current passport system, the U.S. Department of State is setting up a one-time, one-stop shop for all things passports Friday in Duluth. Representatives from the department’s Minneapolis Passport Agency will be at the main post office at 2800 W. Michigan St. in Lincoln Park from 9 a.m. to noon.

Representatives from the office will accept passport book and card renewals and other changes. Usually that work needs to be done through filling out forms and sending them by mail to the Minneapolis office.

Friday will be an opportunity to hear detailed information about passports, spokeswoman Suzi Iverson-Rivers said, especially since the rule changes on the border with Canada that require them. The passport card was introduced in 2008 to help border residents with frequent land and sea travel between the U.S. and Canada. The card also works on entry to Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda.

The 10-year cards cost less: $55 compared to $135 for a book. The department also offers a passport and card combination for $165. A book still is required for all air travel and all other travel outside of North America.

The Department of State issued 12.6 million passports in 2011. Use of the cards has gone up greatly in the four years they have been sold, 1.1 million in 2011 compared to 189,560 in 2008.

Because of the demand in Minnesota, the department opened the office in Minneapolis in 2009. There were 259,164 books or cards sold in the state last year.

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