As of Tuesday, June 9, no American citizen will be allowed to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Bermuda, nor through any sea ports, without a passport.

This deadline has been set for years, and yet the U.S. government estimates that a full 75 percent of American citizens do not have a passport. Accordingly, the State Department has set up “Passport Day In the U.S.A.,” a national day set up to help Americans get their documents in order.

On Saturday, March 28, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. the Mercer County Connection, 957 Route 33 in Hamilton (Acme Shopping Center) will offer extended hours for the acceptance and processing of passport applications. Reservations are preferred, and can be made by calling 609-890-9800. Walk-ins, however, are welcome.

The cost is $75 for adults and $60 for minors, plus a $25 processing fee. The federal government requires a separate check for each passport application.

Passport photos will be taken on-site for $15 or $10 for senior citizens. The clerk’s office will accept only checks and money orders for payment. No cash will be accepted at this event.

“We’ve been telling county residents to apply now to be ahead of the latest border crossing requirements,” says county clerk Paula Sollami Covello. “Travelers who have not yet applied for a passport should not hesitate, because the general demand for US Passports rises as the weather improves.”

To apply for a passport, residents will need proof of U.S. citizenship. A state-certified birth certificate, a U.S. naturalization certificate,or a previous U.S. passport will suffice.

You also need proof of identity — a current driver’s license or state issued identification card.

Passports are valid for 10 years for adults and five years for minors.

For children under age 16, federal passport guidelines now require both parents to appear in person, or a single parent with proper documentation.

If you miss Passport Day, however, don’t worry. Applications are accepted Monday through Friday during business hours at the county clerk’s office, 209 South Broad Street in Trenton, and during regular County Connection hours.

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