Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello today urged county residents planning to travel during the year to apply for their US Passport now. The US State Department has put into place fee hikes that would require adults applying for their first passport book to pay up to $135, from the current $100 fee and up to $105, up from the current $85 for a minor’s passport book. The new federally mandated rates will go into effect on July 13, 2010.

“The Clerk’s Office is anticipating that there might be a rush of passport applications from residents wanting to beat any possible fee hikes and it is ready to assist the residents of Mercer County,” Sollami Covello said. “Travelers who have not yet applied or renewed their passports should not hesitate and get their applications processed before the July 13 fee increase goes into effect to save money,” added Sollami Covello.

On behalf of Mercer County constituents, Clerk Sollami Covello opposed the federal passport fee increases in March. In a letter to federal representatives she co-authored with the Union County Clerk earlier this year, Sollami Covello stated that, “Raising fees could actually deter citizens from applying for their US Passport and hinder opportunities for individual and families to travel outside of US boundaries”. Clerk Sollami Covelo also noted that despite federally mandated fee increases, the County fee for passport processing would remain steady and not increase from its current amount.

The Clerk’s Office processes US Passport applications on a regular basis, Monday through Friday during regular business hours at County Clerk’s Office, 209 South Broad Street in Trenton.  In addition, residents can also apply for a US Passport at the Mercer County Connection located at the Hamilton Square Shopping Center on Highway 33 & Paxson Avenue in Hamilton.  This satellite office offers evening and Saturday hours for the convenience of Mercer County residents. Passport photos are available at both locations. For further information on US Passport and US Passport Card requirements, and what personal documents are needed to obtain one, Mercer County residents are encouraged to visit www.mercercounty.org and click on County Clerk or call 609-989-6473.