The state of Guerrero, which includes the city of Acapulco, is now off limits to US government personnel, with few exceptions. See the state-by-state advisory, including Jalisco, by the US State Department here. See the Canadian counterpart advisory here….
Update 7/10: The Guadalajara consulate staff will probably not visit the Lake Chapala area in August because of the issues described in this article. For that reason, working through attorney McMullen may be the only way to get a passport for the forseeable future.
There are several problems currently facing US nationals renewing their passports at US consulates here. The first problem (as previously reported here) is that a worldwide technical problem is preventing secure identification of foreigners at consulates. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might guess that a terrorist hacking had occurred, since the result is the inability of identifying worldwide travelers.
Consulates will undoubtedly fix the system as soon as they can. In the mean time, people should expect longer delays in the passport renewal process. Although a client recently got his passport renewed in Guadalajara in under 3 weeks, it is hard to say who will be affected by the delays, and how much longer there will be problems. It is always a good idea to not let a passport expire, and to always have more than 6 months left on it before traveling. The consulate will allow renewals a year or more before expiration, so there is no real benefit in waiting until the last minute.
The second problem is that CI Bank (located in Plaza Interlago) no longer issues checks in US dollars, which Guadalajara’s US consulate requires as payment for its services. Up until now, CI has been the only way to pay for consulate transactions (passport renewals and notary services) from this area. So now, when the consulate staff comes here for services, there’s no way to pay them. They don’t take cash remotely, checks in pesos, or even credit cards.
When I called the US consulate to try to solve this second problem, they said they thought Actinver Bank could issue US dollar checks. The clerk I called at the Ajijic branch transferred me when I pressed her to inquire about it after she swore that they didn’t issue US denomination checks, and then the line went dead. I then called the Guadalajara branch. They said that they did, indeed, issue US dollar checks to customers who have US dollar fund accounts, but that it takes 2 days to request a check, and if the customer doesn’t have a US dollar fund, it takes 2 days to buy into the fund. For a person just wanting notary services or to renew a passport, it may be a lot of hassle to open an account, switch funds, and then take a few more steps to get a check.
As a result, I have started making weekly trips to the US consulate in Guadalajara to turn in peoples’ passport renewals and pay for them in cash (they do take cash at the consulate window). So, if anyone needs a US passport renewed, they can come to see me. They can pay me in cash, and I’ll take it to the consulate for them as a service. I let the consulate know it is for clients in Chapala so they will bring the passport on their next trip to the Chapala/Ajijic area. Or, I can make arrangements to pick the passport up for them if they need to travel before the next consulate visit. That saves people two trips to Guadalajara. The current fee is 1,700 pesos for the US consulate to renew a passport, and I charge 500 pesos to help prepare the paperwork, make payment, stand in line at the consulate to submit the application, and get the receipt. So, that takes care of the second problem, paying for consulate fees.
For additional information, contact:
Lic. Spencer Richard McMullen, Attorney in Guadalajara and Chapala, Jalisco
Federal cédula # 7928026
376-765-7553 / USA 805-683-4848