As early as next week, Puerto Rico’s U.S. passport service office will resume operations, Resident Commissioner, Jenniffer González confirmed.
The decision came after a meeting between González and Assistant Secretary of Passport Services of the U.S. Department of State, Brenda Sprague.
About 4,000 passports are ready to deliver to applicants Puerto Rico and the agencies are determining the location, time and exact date the service will restart next week to begin to delivering them, González said.
The use of U.S. Postal Service offices is being evaluated as potential delivery locations, but there are still safety concerns about the use of this alternative, she said.
In a statement, the USPS said it is open for business on the island, where “we are delivering mail and packages wherever it is safe to do so. We are also offering customers the ability to pick up their mail and packages and purchase retail services at 75 percent of our post offices in Puerto Rico.”
“However, the U.S. Department of State has instructed the Postal Service not to accept or deliver passports until they can conduct a ground analysis of the conditions in Puerto Rico, because of the Department’s security concerns about the return of completed passports and supporting documentation to the true applicants, and the corresponding need to protect personally identifiable information,” the agency noted.
Both the U.S. Department of State and the Postal Service are working together as quickly as possible to restore this service to customers, the postal service statement confirmed.
The passport office closed in Puerto Rico following Hurricane María impact on power service, which left the agency unable to contact the security system to protect documents containing sensitive information belonging to the public.
González discussed with Sprague and other members of the U.S. Department of State who participated in the meeting alternatives so that people can continue to send their passport applications; such access is now limited.
David P. Giamellaro, the former director of the passport office in San Juan, will arrive on the island Thursday to work with staff from the office of the Resident Commissioner in San Juan on details and alternatives to restore passport office services, she said.