If you’re in a real hurry to get your passport, you have two choices: use a private passport expediting company or go to an emergency passport office. Each of these choices has pros and cons, and it’s important to consider how these relate to your own situation so you can make the best choice. Here, then, is a quick run-down of the advantages and disadvantages of each option:
Emergency Passport Offices
An emergency passport office, also called a Regional Passport Agency office, is a special passport office that is able to issue passports usually within 24 hours. There are currently 21 of these offices scattered throughout the country, and the government is in the process of constructing more of them to keep up with demand. See What to Bring to An Emergency Passport Office for more details.
There are several advantages to using an emergency passport office:
No extra fees, other than the $ 60 expediting fee you pay for expedited passport service.
Same-day service is available in many locations.
However, there are also some disadvantages:
There are only 21 emergency passport offices in the country, so if you aren’t located near one getting there can be a hassle.
You can’t walk in-you have to make an appointment by calling 1-877-487-2778.
Limited office hours mean that if you work during the day, you will likely have to take time off to go.
Taking time off work and traveling can incur their own expenses.
Passport Expediting Companies
Private passport expediting companies are private companies that submit your application on your behalf, directly to the Department of State.
Using a reputable expediting company has the following advantages:
No appointment needed-just go down to a post office, library or other location that accepts passport applications, have your documents sealed and mail your application in.
No need to travel or take time off work.
The best expediting companies offer real-time tracking of your application and personal service to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
Processing times can be as short as 24 hours.
The most common disadvantages to using an expediting company are as follows:
Cost: Expediters charge for their services. The sooner you need your passport, the more you can expect to pay.
Processing times can be as short as 24 hours but the need to ship the application means that it may take more than 24 hours to get your passport back, even with the fastest shipping options available.
Alison Kroulek is a freelance writer and blogger with a focus on the travel industry.