Starting next year, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Island U.S. residents will be able to get their passports issued at the U.S. State Department branch that will open in San Juan, rather than stateside, government officials said Thursday.
The announcement came following a meeting between Gov. Luis Fortuño, Puerto Rico Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock, and to discuss details of the collaboration between both governments.
“We’re extremely pleased that 18 months of efforts with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have yielded results, producing this historic decision that will make it possible, for the first time since 1985, to issue passports on the island and, for the first time in history, to have it done by the U.S. Department of State,” said McClintock during a morning news conference in Old San Juan.
The agreement requires that the government of Puerto Rico provide space, at no cost, for the federal agency’s future local offices. In turn, the federal government will make an unspecified multi-million investment to retrofit the facilities and assume the operational costs of the new branch that should open sometime in 2012, McClintock said.
Finally, McClintock said the five local State Department offices currently processing passport applications would continue to do so in close collaboration with its federal counterpart.
“What will change is that whoever needs an emergency passport will not need to travel to Miami, but will be able to get it in Puerto Rico directly,” he said.