Utah to finally get its own passport office after Romney push

Salt Lake City will get a permanent passport office, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Tuesday.

Salt Lake City will get a permanent passport office, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Tuesday. (Jenny Kane, Associated Press)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's capital city will get a permanent passport office, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Tuesday.

The closest passport office to Salt Lake is currently 500 miles away in Denver, but after a concerted effort by Sen. Mitt Romney and other members of Utah's congressional delegation, an office will soon be open in Utah.

Romney released a statement after the announcement saying he and his team had worked for more than three years to bring a passport agency to Utah.

"Utah is experiencing rapid population growth as it becomes a center for global commerce and tourism — as well as home base to thousands of Latter-day Saints who embark on worldwide religious missions each year," Romney said. "A passport agency in Salt Lake now means that Utahns will not have to travel such long distances to obtain in-person consular services. I could not be more thrilled with today's announcement."

In a statement released alongside the announcement, Blinken said six new agencies will open, including the one in Salt Lake City, and that the department is issuing more passports "than ever before."

"To better serve the growing number of Americans seeking U.S. passports, the department is taking steps to establish six new passport agencies. These offices – which will open in Salt Lake City; Kansas City, Mo.; Orlando, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; San Antonio, Texas; and Cincinnati, Ohio — reflect our commitment to provide prompt customer services to more Americans closer to where they live," he said.

Romney helped insert language into the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2024, that required the State Department to determine if they should open more passport offices closer to population centers, especially if they were more than a five-hour drive from a passport agency. Salt Lake City met those criteria.

At a passport fair he helped organize in Salt Lake City in February, Romney said his sole purpose was to "encourage the State Department to open a passport office" in Utah.

"We have a lot of people in Utah who do a lot of travel internationally. We have a lot of missionaries, we have a lot of families, big families. They want to go around the world and see different places," Romney said.

The February fair also included a visit from Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Rena Bitter, who said the department was researching locations around the country and would make a decision soon about where to place a new office.

In April 2023, several members of Utah's congressional delegation said because of a backlog at passport processing centers their offices were flooded with requests for help from their constituents. At the time, they asked the agency to consider opening a passport office in Utah.

Romney, in a 2021 letter to Blinken, highlighted the hardships his constituents face without a passport facility.

"Today, residents throughout the Western Mountain region of the United States, including Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming must renew their passports by mail, or travel significant distances to neighboring states to access the nearest passport office," he said. "Same day, in-person service is essentially impossible for millions of Americans in these states."

He also pointed out that Utah is a fast-growing state, a bustling center for global commerce and tourism. Salt Lake City is also the western hub for Delta Airlines. Every year, Utah receives 250,000 passports, Romney previously said. This demand will only amplify when the 2034 Olympics comes to Utah.

Check Travel.State.Gov for travel-related information on all countries.

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Utah congressional delegationUtah travel and tourismUtahPoliticsSalt Lake County
Suzanne Bates
Suzanne Bates is the national politics editor for Deseret News.

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