No-appointment passport application services, a feature offered at the Lake County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office in Waukegan, will begin rolling out to branch courts this fall.
Circuit Court Clerk Keith Brin appointed members of his staff to make the passport application process easier, a service upgrade that has been finalized over the past three months.
A significant component of the service includes detailed information on the Circuit Clerk’s website that helps people prepare for the complicated process and avoid unnecessary return trips.
This fall, the service — which officials said is the only no-appointment application service offered in Lake County — will be made available beginning with the Park City Branch Court, followed by the Mundelein and Round Lake branch courthouses.
“We have a super, well-trained bilingual staff for this,” said Chief Deputy Clerk Jeanne Polydoris, noting that passports are in more demand than ever before.
Passports are required to enter Canada and Mexico, and to go on cruises that previously only required passports for trips disembarking outside the country.
Quintin Sepulveda, new initiatives director for the clerk’s office, said the application process is filled with potential pitfalls and traps that the circuit clerk website is now designed to address. Links to all the necessary forms, as well as easy-to-understand directions, are all available at www.lakecountyil.gov/circuitclerk.
Sepulveda said he spent months observing the existing process in action while he helped develop the new changes.
“The [federal] guidelines are very complex,” he said. “We made a checklist in English and Spanish with links to forms you can complete and print online. Before, I can attest people had to come back to the office two and three times.”
Among the requirements many are not aware of is that children 15 years old and younger must accompany both parents to get a passport. Also, two separate checks are needed to complete the process, and multiple forms of identification are required for out-of-state residents.
Passport services at the clerk’s office are not limited only to Lake County residents, and as a result, residents of Cook County and Kenosha have been drawn to the office because of the no-appointment option, Sepulveda said.
A well-prepared customer can expect to complete the application process in 30 minutes to an hour.
The service is available from 8:30 to 4 p.m. at 18 N. County St., Waukegan.
Yacola Slaughter, a deputy clerk who also worked on the upgrade, said people should still plan on coming as early as possible, especially during busy times such as the holidays and the summer.
Slaughter also said the office and website reflect frequently changing requirements.
“The rules change so much,” she said. “I’m constantly calling the passport agency.”