Now's the time to beat the summer passport rush.
The State Department, which issued a record 5.3 million U.S. passports in 1995, anticipates that number will top 5.6 million next year, which could mean long lines and possible delays for travelers who procrastinate.
The most convenient way to apply for a passport is at a designated post office or courthouse, where the lines are generally shorter than at the 13 passport agencies around the United States. In Los Angeles, the passport agency is at the Federal Building in Westwood, 11000 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 13100. Hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday.
The agency has a detailed tape recording covering all aspects of passport applications and renewals. The line is heavily used and often busy. Keep calling. The number is (310) 235-7070. In many cases, you can renew your passport by mail. Instructions are covered in the tape recording.
The State Department has issued a pamphlet with more information on applying for a passport and traveling abroad. To obtain a copy of "Passports: Applying for Them the Easy Way," send 50 cents to the Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, Colo. 81009.