If you’ve got a big international trip coming up and an expired passport sitting in your travel bag — and you only have a few days until takeoff — you’ve got a problem.
But just because everyone’s expecting you doesn’t mean you can jump to the front of the line and get an expired passport emergency renewal in less than six to eight weeks, the standard turnaround for a ticket out of the country.
Or does it?
Actually, there are certain scenarios where you can get a renewal of an expired passport today, sometimes in as little as a few hours.
The secret is to go to your local Passport Agency.
But here’s the catch: you must have travel already booked (with proof), a filled-out passport application with supporting documentation (expired passport or birth certificate), and a 2″ by 2″ color photo in front of a white or off-white background.
And be prepared to wait in line and pay an extra $60 on top of the cost of your passport ($110 for a renewal and $145 for a first-time passport).
1. Life-or-Death Emergency
If there’s a serious illness, injury or death in your immediate family and your flight leaves within 72 hours, you have what the Department of State calls a Life-or-Death Emergency, and it gives you the highest priority.
That means you can call your local Passport Agency and schedule an appointment to meet with an agent and get your expired passport emergency renewal before your imminent flight.
But you still need to gather a bunch of materials and bring them to your appointment — like a filled-out form, a 2″ by 2″ picture, a copy of your ticket and your old passport.
Make one mistake, however, and you could be sent to the back of the line for a few more hours, or they might even send you home to come back another day if you’re missing something big.
And if you don’t have an appointment or your flight leaves tomorrow and you don’t have time to make one, you better show up early.
That’s because, like the DMV, they’ll serve people with appointments on time, but everyone else gets a number. And if you’re not there hours before they open, you could end up waiting behind dozens of people all day instead of catching your flight.
2. Urgent International Travel Plans
If your flight leaves within two weeks and you don’t have a life-or-death situation, you can still book an appointment at your local Passport Agency and get an expired passport emergency renewal.
The catch is that you can’t book an appointment more than two weeks out from your travel date, so make sure you’re not calling your local Passport Agency too early because they’ll just tell you to call back later.
You can, however, try your luck by showing up sans-appointment at a Passport Agency, but there are no guarantees.
Even if you’re one of the first in line, a simple mishap like a missing piece of documentation or an unacceptable photo can hold up your renewal of an expired U.S. passport.
And even if everything’s perfect, a stubborn agent might not take too kindly to someone skirting the rules and block your renewal.
3. You’d Rather Not Wait
If you’re like most people and you’d simply rather not wait the couple months it can take to get a new passport in the mail — longer if it gets lost or there’s some kind of hang-up — you can apply for an expedited passport emergency renewal at a passport acceptance facility or through the mail.
The best part is that you don’t need a reason to expedite, and you also don’t need proof of travel or even real travel plans at all; you can expedite your passport just because you don’t want to go through the regular channels and wait forever.
That all sounds good until you realize you need a different form than what’s required by a normal passport renewal, and it’s not clear how long it’ll actually take — the Department of State says under six to eight weeks. Generally, it’s known that a “typical” expedited renewal will take two or three weeks, to use this approach, but you will not be provided a delivery date and things can get lost in the mail.
The kicker is that your passport will be sent via First Class Mail unless you pay for 1-2 day delivery service on top of the $60 expedite fee and the $110 passport renewal application fee.
4. The Non-Emergency Expired Passport Emergency Renewal
But if you really don’t want to wait — and you don’t have an emergency but you do have tickets and travel plans — you can try what we call the expired passport emergency renewal for non-emergencies.
It works like this.
Gather all your materials, including a copy of your ticket, a filled-out passport renewal application, your old passport or a birth certificate, a correctly-sized color photo and enough cash to cover all the fees, and bring everything to the closest Passport Agency.
Keep in mind, however, that there are only a couple dozen Passport Agencies nationwide, so even if there’s one in your state — most states have none — you may have to travel and book a hotel to make this work.
The idea is you want to be first (or close to first) in line when they open, but give yourself a couple hours’ buffer here. Trust us; if they open at eight, show up at five or six.
And if you’re at the front of the line when the doors open and you get a helpful agent, you could be walking out of the Passport Agency with a brand new passport. Just think of the places you could go!
But not so fast. If they’ve got a lot of appointments or you’re missing the smallest little thing, you’re out of luck, and you’ll have to come back another day.
Let The Passport Office Help
If all that sounds like a nuisance, we agree.
Here at The Passport Office, we can help you get an expedited passport renewal without all the fuss.
We’ve helped thousands of travelers just like you skip the lines, confusing forms and complicated picture requirements by helping you through every step of an expired passport emergency renewal.
And if you’re missing anything, we’ll courteously walk you through it, not kick you back to the end of the line.
Just check out our easy-to-use passport renewal application form or call or click today to see how we can help you!