SEMINOLE, Fla. (WFLA)— While you may struggle getting or renewing a single passport, a traveler in Seminole ended up with a pair of the important travel documents.
The song and laughter in videos from the Bello’s trip to Mexico did not mesh with the journey to get his passport.
“The goal posts kept moving too often,” Jose Bello said.
After his passport renewal through the State Department’s expedited process took too long, Bello secured an appointment at a facility that can produce one in a single day
That forced him to fly north to a passport office in Hot Springs, Arkansas. When he arrived, there was a line out the door.
“There were about 50 people in front me. I thought I should’ve gotten there earlier.” Bello said. “I really wanted to give up. I felt defeated.”
Then, another defeat from an announcement by a clerk at the office.
“I just have to tell you the printer is broken, and we are on pause for passport production,” Bello recalled. “I thought that was it.”
The smiles in his vacation pictures reveal Bello got his passport and went to Mexico with his wife and friends.
Then he came home and found something unusual in the mail.
“We’re sifting through the mail and there’s a priority envelop from the government,” Bello recalled.
It was a second 10-year passport with a different number from the other document.
“And I couldn’t believe it,” Bello said. “I started laughing. We started laughing. We said there’s no way this is happening.”
State Department spokesperson Christy Buzzard was limited in discussing Bello’s ordeal but she acknowledged in an email no one should have two 10-year passports.
“Generally speaking, individuals should not have two valid, ten-year passports at the same time,” Buzzard said. “In limited circumstances, we will issue a limited-validity, second passport book which will be valid for up to four years.”
Bello has filed a complaint about the delays, requesting a refund of the cost of the expedited process. He also asked a State Department clerk what he should do about the second passport.
“There was a pregnant pause on the phone. Silence,” Bello said. “And I said hello. And the gentleman on the other side of the phone said, hmm, that’s perplexing. He actually suggested I keep both.”
The State Department processed a record number of passports last year and so far applications are up 30% to 40% this year.
In March, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Congress the State Department reached records for weekly applications during the winter.