Laura Hinojosa, Hidalgo County District Clerk announced Monday that the office has been designated an official passport acceptance facility and now accepts passport applications on behalf of the U.S. Department of State.

“We are pleased to accept passport applications at the district clerk’s office as it enables the county to provide yet another convenient service to our community,” stated Hinojosa. “We look forward to providing an efficient and friendly service to the public.”

The U.S. passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies the identity and nationality of the bearer and is required to enter and leave most foreign countries. Beginning on June 1, 2008, under the federal government’s ‘Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative,” passport requirements are extended to all air, sea and land border crossings and includes travel to and from Canada, Bermuda, Mexico and the Caribbean region. This policy change has resulted in an increased demand for new passports and passport renewals.

United States citizens planning international travel may apply for their passport at the district clerk’s office by appointment from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The office is located in the 1st Floor of the county courthouse at 100 N. Closner Blvd., Edinburg. Passport customers should be prepared well in advance of any international travel as the approximate time for routine processing of a passport application takes from 4 to 6 weeks.

For application forms, information on documentation required, fees, and a wealth of other passport and international travel related information, please visit the district clerk’s website at www.co.hidalgo.tx.us or the US Department of State website at www.travel.state.gov.