Kansas City is getting a passport center. Here’s what it means for passport emergencies.

For years, if someone in the Kansas City area had an emergency with their passport, it required an hours-long drive to cities like Chicago, Hot Springs, Ark., Dallas, Denver or Minneapolis.

No longer.

The State Department on Tuesday announced Kansas City is one of six new cities getting a passport agency.

“There is simply no reason that families in the Kansas City region should have to drive five hours or more to receive in-person assistance for passport services, and after a year of encouragement from Rep. (Sharice) Davids and I, I’m thrilled that they’ve heeded our calls to establish a passport agency right here in Kansas City,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat.

Kansas City, Orlando, Salt Lake City, Charlotte, San Antonio and Cincinnati will now be among the 35 passport agencies and centers across the country. Those agencies are responsible for processing passport requests and providing in-person appointments for people who have a foreign travel emergency within 14 days or need a foreign visa within 28 days.

The State Department did not say when the new passport centers are expected to open.

Millions of Americans have grown increasingly frustrated with long wait times for passports as the State Department has struggled to keep up with a crushing demand of requests. The department processed 45 million passport claims in the 2023 fiscal year, as the number of Americans who has a passport grew from 5% in 1990 to more than 48% in 2024.

The high demand resulted in wait times as long as 10 to 13 weeks last June. When people in Kansas City needed quicker service, they often found that appointments at passport centers were completely booked.

As of December, the State Department said the current wait time is back down to six to eight weeks. International travel is up to 97% of its pre-pandemic levels, according to according to the World Tourism Organization, an agency of the United Nations.

The State Department also recently created an online passport renewal service, to help make it easier for people to renew their passports online.

Davids said she was thrilled Kansas City was chosen to have a passport agency.

“Our teams have received countless inquiries from constituents, who often face long drives and unnecessary stress to get their passports,” Davids said. “This new agency will significantly streamline the request and renewal process, making it easier and more efficient for everyone.”