The wheels of bureaucracy move slowly, and that is never more true than when you’re waiting for a passport. Or at least, that’s how it seems when you’re about to leave the country and your passport has not yet arrived. Generally speaking, you should aim to apply for your passport at least 2 months in advance, since it takes 6 weeks or longer to process a passport application and you want to have a little bit of a cushion in case something goes wrong.
However, if you don’t have that much time, there are ways to speed up the application process and get rush passport processing. Let’s take a look at the options available to you:
Rush Passport Processing
One option is to order rush passport processing from the Department of State for an additional $ 60. If you’re applying in person for a new passport, simply let the passport agent know that you need your application expedited and include the $ 60 fee in your payment to the State Department. If you’re applying for a renewal by mail, include the extra $ 60 in your total and write “Expedite” on the envelope.
For faster processing, the government “strongly suggests” overnight delivery both to and from the passport facility. The cost for overnight delivery to the passport facility will vary depending on which company you send it through. The cost to have your new passport overnighted to you once the State Department has processed it is $ 12.72 – again, just add this cost to your total.
Ordering rush processing with overnight shipping will cut the time needed to receive your passport to about 3 weeks.
Regional Passport Agencies
If you have plans to leave the US within the next two weeks and you still don’t have a passport, call 1-877-487-2778 to make an appointment at a passport agency office.
As of May 2011, there were 24 of these offices in the US open to serve the public. A regional passport agency office can issue a passport within 24 hours, but in addition to the other documents needed to apply for a passport, you’ll also need to bring a copy of your itinerary showing that you plan on leaving the country with 2 weeks (4 weeks if you also need a visa in your destination country).
You will need to pay the expedite fee for each application you submit at the passport agency office.
With only 24 passport agencies in the entire US, many parts of the country are obviously under-served. Even if you’re lucky enough to have an agency located conveniently to you, you may not be able to make it in during their usually limited office hours. Private expediting companies allow people who otherwise would not be able to obtain emergency passport services to rush passport applications for processing is as little as a day.
To use one of these companies, you simply send your paperwork to them and they will take it to the Department of State for you. Once your passport has been issued, the company sends it back to you, generally using an overnight carrier.
Alison Kroulek is a freelance writer and blogger with a focus on the travel industry.
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