Planning a trip abroad?
The University of New Mexico could be the first stop.
The school has opened a U.S. Department of State-certified passport acceptance center at its campus bookstore, and it’s open to the public.
The school’s Global Education Office made a one-time $50,000 investment to launch the UNM Passport Center, working in collaboration with UNM Bookstores.
GEO administrative officer Danielle Gilliam said the center should make the passport application process more convenient for those starting study-abroad programs and also could become a money-maker for the office.
“It’s designed to be self-sustaining over time; if we generate a profit, which we hope to do, … those additional funds would be reinvested into international education,” she said.
The State Department approached UNM in December 2015 about opening such a center to help address growing passport demand, Gilliam said. Passport issuance has increased each of the past five years, growing 48 percent between 2011 and 2016, according to federal data.
Excluding UNM, the State Department lists just three other passport acceptance centers in Albuquerque – two post offices and the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office.
The UNM Passport Center verifies applicants’ identity documents, administers the required oath, packages the application materials and sends them for processing. The standard federal charge applies.
The UNM location – nestled in the UNM Bookstore next to Satellite Coffee – also offers passport photos.
The center will host a grand opening today, though it started operating in early April.
“We’ve already had quite a lot of traffic, just because we’re listed on the State Department website,” Gilliam said.
It’s currently open by appointment 11:15 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and has walk-in hours 4-5:45 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and 11 a.m.-2:45 p.m. Saturday. For more information, go online to passport.unm.edu.