EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – With summer approaching, some El Pasoans may be thinking ahead or planning a vacation outside of the United States. However, with COVID-19 still persisting, it is important to plan ahead.

Usually El Pasoans went downtown and entered the Anson Mills building to apply for a passport. Due to COVID-19, appointments are now required. However, there are a few things everyone should know before planning a vacation or whether they need to go overseas right away.

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“Obviously, things have changed for all of us under COVID,” said Santiago Burciaga, associate director of the El Paso Passport Agency.

Changes at the El Paso Passport Agency include closing the window for emergency travel.

“Here at the agency, we accept applicants who travel within 72 hours,” said Burciaga.

The agency recommended that those applying for passports plan well in advance of international travel.

“There are many passport applications that we are still working on. Our commitment has always been to get them out as soon as possible. With our existing resources, we can currently do this in 10 to 12 weeks and 4 to 6 weeks for expedited processing, ”said Burciaga.

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KTSM 9 News asked El Pasoans on social media if there had been any delays in obtaining their passport amid the pandemic. Some say they didn’t have any problems. Meanwhile, a mother said she had to go to Las Cruces for her 2-year-old’s passport and said he “probably won’t be here in time for a beach trip to Mexico”.

Agency officials said it was important to take into account the difference in minors’ passports.

“One of the biggest mistakes we make as parents is that our children’s under 16 passports are only valid for 5 years,” said Burciaga. “It’s very common when we travel and then we look at our kids’ passports and then ‘oops’. They realize that they are under a 5 year pass, have expired and we do not. We need a passport so be sure to look at this information. “

Another tip is to consider the difference between passport books and passport cards.

“A passport book has wings and the card doesn’t. So you can fly internationally with your passport book. You can’t fly internationally with your card, ”said Burciaga.

The agency said it was also very important to inquire about travel advisories which countries differ based on the status of coronavirus measures.

For more information on passport applications, see Here or call 1-877-487-2778.