100 years of Travel–The NOLA Passport Office’s Centennial Anniversary

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) —This year, the New Orleans Passport Agency celebrates their centennial anniversary. Out of the 29 passport agencies in the country, New Orleans’ agency is the third largest in the country. Before the pandemic, the office issued a record setting 1.7 million passports in 2019.

Michael T. Edgerson is an Assistant Director of Consular Affairs for the New Orleans Passport Center and knows his history, saying, “the New Orleans Passport Center is one of the secret gems of New Orleans to be around so long. The passport continues to be the most secure identity document you can get. Our office opened July 1st, 1921, in the U.S. Custom House, right across the street. We moved from the Custom House in 1923 to the main post office building. We then closed for 17 years because of the Great Depression.”

Over the years, the agency was housed in numerous locations around Canal Street. It settled inside Canal Place in 1999 and has been there ever since. Before the 1920’s a passport was little more than a document with a decree to travel. In time, pictures were added and the process was streamlined and modified. In the first year of 1921, the New Orleans agency issued 226 passports with only two employees.

Since those early years, the work hasn’t slowed down. Recently, the office is experiencing an uptick in applications.

“I think the success of the COVID-19 vaccination, has Americans feeling like they are getting back to normal. International travel is part of that normalcy. My best advice for potential travelers is to monitor the restrictions of both the U.S. and the country you wish to travel to closely. As the Delta variant moves, there are changes every day,” says Edgerson.

In addition to an increase in applicants, the pandemic has also changed the way appointments are made at passport offices. Due to recent fraud over the last few months, of individuals manipulating the agency’s system and selling passport appointments; appointments are taken only by phone. No longer can an applicant make an appointment online.

The eagerness of traveling is due to a world that is continuously getting smaller, as travelers can’t wait to get out onto the world.

Assistant Director Michael Edgerson has had his feet on five continents and numerous countries. He has experience in both military travel and also in leisurely travel. His most memorable trip was to Jamaica.

“My grandmother was from St. Elizabeth Jamaica. I had always wanted to go and see where she was from and that was my most memorable trip. My first vacation was years earlier, to Belize,” says Edgerson.

Travel opens a third eye of how one views the world an dit is addictive. The popularity is shown in the workload of the office’s 160 employees, who process about 4,500 passports daily.

It takes about 12 to 18 weeks to process a normal application that isn’t urgent. On the contrary to popular belief, there is no incentive to apply in one city over another. Applications are put into a cue, once submitted and then dispersed to be processed from the national office back to various passport centers around the country.

To make an appointment you may call the office at (877) 487-2778. The address is 365 Canal St #1300, New Orleans, LA 70130.

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