POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Salt Lake City to get a passport agency

Jun 19, 2024, 5:00 AM | Updated: Jun 24, 2024, 2:17 pm

A man holds a passport in front of a world map. Expansions of passport services are on their way ac...

The addition of six new passport agencies across the United States will improve consular service accessibility for many citizens. (Canva)

(Canva)

SALT LAKE CITY — After a three-year push by Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Salt Lake City will be one of six new sites to get a passport agency.

This comes as part of a provision on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024, a bill supported by Romney. The aim is to improve access to passport services across the country. 

Romney cited strong population growth and missionary service by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as major reasons for the growing need for passport services in Utah.

“A passport agency in Salt Lake now means that Utahns will not have to travel such long distances to obtain in-person consular services,” Romney said.

Working toward a passport agency

There are currently 26 passport agencies in the United States, largely placed in coastal areas. The nearest one to northern Utah residents is in Aurora, Colo.

The process to obtain this expansion of consular services began in 2021. That year, Romney first proposed expanding the passport agency into the Mountain West. In 2022, the State Department was required to review the accessibility of passport agencies across the country.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024 passed in 2023. Then, this year, the State Department announced that Salt Lake City would get its own passport agency.

The announcement

Secretary of State Antony Blinken personally called Romney to deliver the news. 

“I could not be more thrilled with today’s announcement,” Romney said.

Gov. Spencer Cox praised Utah’s congressional delegation for their work.

“We’re proud of how many Utahns have international experience and language skills,” Cox said. “Having in-person passport services will be an important improvement for Utah residents and will enhance Utah’s international reach.”

On a national scale

It’s not only Utah residents who have shown a growing demand for passports. According to a statement from the State Department, 2023 saw more passports issued than ever before. The percentage of Americans who hold passports has been steadily climbing for decades.

“In 1990, only five percent of Americans had a passport,” the statement said. “Today, that number is 48 percent.”

In addition to Salt Lake City, passport agencies will also open in Kansas City, Miss.; Orlando, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; San Antonio, Texas; and Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Salt Lake City to get a passport agency