UNC offers over 300 study abroad programs spanning 70 countries, and for many of these programs, students are required to have a passport to travel. For this reason, UNC Global offers an annual passport drive through the FedEx Global Education Center.
This year’s drive will occur on Nov. 7 and 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Global Education Center to grant students greater access to the necessary documentation for their global endeavors.
“One of UNC Global’s missions is to support Carolina faculty and students who want to engage in study and research abroad, so we started the passport drive to make it easier for members of the UNC community to get their passports,” said Melissa McMurray, the international liaison officer for UNC Global.
McMurray said the passport drive has been occurring for roughly 14 years, and this year, they have already received 4,000 applications. She said this number has increased dramatically since the advent of the drive.
“We had learned that the State Department was willing and able to come up to campuses to help with applications, so once we learned about that possibility we thought we should do one at Carolina, too,” McMurray said. “It grows every year. Every year we think we’ll finally catch up and it keeps growing.”
Every year, the Charleston Passport Center sends representatives to the drive who are equipped to handle the multitude of students, faculty and staff seeking passports.
All students, faculty and staff are eligible to obtain a passport from the drive, and first-time passport recipients are granted the ability to receive funding for their first passport. For students and staff seeking to renew their passports, there is a fee associated with doing so.
“I decided to get a passport this year through UNC because it’s convenient, and I’m hoping to study abroad over the summer,” said Justin Smith, a sophomore business major planning to study abroad in Europe. “This is my first passport.”
Students attending the event should submit an application and bring a series of items to their appointment. Some of these items include a proof of U.S. citizenship, proof of identity and a passport photo. McMurray encouraged students to look at a listed of necessary items on the UNC Global website ahead of time.
“The number one tip is to make sure to read the information on the website for the passport drive to make sure you have every material and funds that you need,” McMurray said. “It can be really frustrating if you hadn’t read closely and didn’t realize you needed your birth certificate.”
For those students who cannot obtain a passport photo, the drive offers the opportunity to have one taken during the appointment with a $7 fee. The requirements for a passport photo have changed slightly this year to exclude the wearing of eyeglasses, so McMurray said students and staff should look up the current policies for the photo.
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