It takes only about 16 minutes to apply at courthouse
Of the myriad documents filed in the course of about 1,000 statute-required functions at the Duval County Office of Clerk of Courts, U.S. passport applications is one of the fastest-growing categories.
The office began processing the applications after a 2014 study determined that about 11,000 people in Jacksonville applied that year for the federally issued international travel document.
At the time, applications were accepted at certain post offices and the Clay and Nassau county clerk’s offices.
Adding the Duval County Courthouse to the list made sense, said Duval County Clerk of the Circuit & County Courts Ronnie Fussell.
“We wanted to make it more convenient and make it a positive for the clerk’s office,” he said.
On average, it takes 16 minutes to complete the application process from the time you arrive at the office until you’re walking out the door “if you’ve got your documents in order,” Fussell said.
That includes bringing the required photograph, the only part of the service the clerk’s office doesn’t perform.
Those are available at pharmacy stores, print shops and other photo providers.
“You have to go to Walgreens for that,” Fussell said.
Accepting passport applications has proven to be a revenue stream for the clerk’s office, which receives about 85 percent of its funding from the state and the remainder from filing fees and statuatory and court-ordered sources.
In fiscal year 2015-16, the office accepted 4,907 applications, generating revenue of about $122,000, which helped the office continue to avoid needing money from the city general fund budget, Fussell said.
And the passport business is growing at the courthouse.
From Oct. 1 through April 30, the office has accepted 5,227 applications, generating about $130,000 in revenue, with five months left in the fiscal year, Fussell said.
As brief as the application process is at the courthouse, it doesn’t make the time it takes to receive a passport any shorter, and Fussell has some advice for people who will need to renew their travel document.
He said passport renewal regulations changed about 10 years ago and the U.S. State Department is projecting about 20 million applications will be received by Dec. 31, adding significantly to the federal department’s workflow.
That could slow down the process and extend the time it takes to receive a new document, so “if you want to apply for a passport, come see us as soon as possible,” Fussell said.
Millions of records served
Duval County Clerk’s Office 2015-16 by the numbers:
2.5 million court documents processed
306,502 walk-in customers served
299,816 official documents processed
218,407 new cases filed
59,954 jurors summoned
6,566 marriage licenses issued