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Post office popular for passports
No appointment policy a big draw
Pass WEB 1
Gary Moulder with the Cumming Post Office, helps, from left, Iselle Montiel, 14, mom Alberta Contreras, and sister Isanel Montiel, 12, with passport applications Saturday. - photo by Crystal Ledford

Before they travel abroad, many north Georgia residents make a trip to Cumming.

While they may enjoy the food or scenery while here, the real draw is the post office, which has become what one local official described as “the mecca for passports in Atlanta.”

“We do over 14,000 passports here a year,” said Gary Moulder, a passport acceptance agent at the post office on Tribble Gap Road. “People might like to know why we’re so busy all the time. Well, that’s why.”

Much of the traffic, which totals about 55 to 60 applications per day, can be attributed to a local policy.

“Every post office in [metro] Atlanta, you have to have an appointment to get a passport [Monday-Friday] … and they’re not manned to do that many, so they only take a few appointments each day,” Moulder said. “So as it turns out, if you need an appointment, you can’t get one for four or five or six weeks — except for Cumming.”

Appointments weren’t required this past Saturday — that’s the one day of the week they normally are — when more than 120 people turned out for an annual passport fair. As long as they were in the line by 1 p.m., they were guaranteed assistance.

Jeffrey Cohen came from Cobb County with his 12-year-old son, Quinn.

“He has a school trip coming up this summer and we wanted to get ahead,” Cohen said. “We didn’t have an appointment, so we took advantage of this open day.”

Moulder noted that many post offices direct passport applicants to Cumming. Most people they’ve helped recently are preparing for spring break or summer travel.

“We also see a lot of college students doing study abroad and new citizens, they like to rush in and get a passport right away,” he said. “And new babies, there’s a lot of that, especially if the parents aren’t citizens and the baby is.”

Moulder said the office has about six passport acceptance agents, all of whom are Postal Service employees who have received additional training from the U.S. Department of State.

But he and Tavish Presswood handle the bulk of the applications, with other agents just filling in when the office is particularly busy.

According to Moulder, the busiest stretch for the office was a few years ago when passport laws changed, requiring the documents for travel to countries where they previously weren’t needed.

“If I had to say … it probably has been an increase [again recently], but it’s hard to notice just because it’s always busy here,” he said.

Sometimes people come in with challenging situations.

“A lot of people, if they do have something crazy going on, they like to come here just because we do so many of them,” he said. “There’s not too many things we haven’t seen happen.”