Recorder Getting Out Of Passport Business

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By Joe Foreman, Editor

    The Mills County Recorder’s Office is getting out of the passport business.
    Effective May 1, a change in requirements for offices accepting passport applications will force several recorders’ offices across Iowa to stop offering the passport service, Mills County Recorder Vicki McClintic announced earlier this month.
    McClintic said county recorders were told by the U.S. Department of State last October they would no longer be eligible to process passport applications if they could not comply with new guidelines. One of the new policies requires any office that receives, houses and issues certified copies of birth certificates (the document required to be sent along with passport applications to verify citizenship) to have total separation of duties and space within the office for birth certificates and passport application processing. If this cannot be achieved, the office will become ineligible to issue passport applications.
    “Separating the physical space for the passport application process from the vital records would entail separate public counters, separate entrances, separate private work stations and a physical separation or wall between the workspace,” McClintic said. “Information and files must also be physically separated and not accessible to anyone but those employees working with passports.
    “The separation of staff and duties would require that the employees processing passport applications not be able to access birth records.”
    McClintic said limitations on office space and the number of employees working in the recorder’s office make it impossible to comply with the new guidelines. The recorder’s office will quit processing passport applications at the end of the work day on April 30. Sometime later this spring or early summer, the Mills County Auditor’s Office may begin offering the service.
    Staff in the auditor’s office are working to become certified in passport application processing, but Lori Ingoldsby a member of the auditor’s office staff, said Thursday the certification process wouldn’t be completed by April 30. There could be several weeks after April 30 when passport application processing is not available in Mills County.
    The next closest passport processing office is located in the Council Bluffs Post Office.
    The recorder’s office is urging Mills County residents who plan to travel outside the country this summer, to get their passport application processed at her office before the end of April.
    McClintic said recorders’ offices began processing passport applications and handling vital statistics (birth, death and marriage applications) 17 years ago, after the court system divested themselves of the duties. She estimates her office processes 150 passport applications each year.
    She regrets her office will no longer be offering the service after April 30.
    “I’m really sorry to lose the passport application process. It has been a wonderful service to the public,” McClintic said.
    Persons with passport application questions should call the recorder’s office at 527-9315.