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Imagine for a moment going over your packing list for your fabulous international vacation. The swimsuit and the sunglasses are packed, but then you remember your trusty blue passport. Digging it out, you glance at your picture and notice it’s expired! Now what? Read on for all the details for passport renewals and what to do when your expedited passport doesn’t arrive in time.
Coronavirus Complicates Passport Timing
Coronavirus has taken a toll on both USPS mail operations and the U.S. Passport system in general. Make sure you know how long it will take. Currently, processing times are running between 10-12 weeks.
Paying for expedited service is $60 and will get you your passport in 4-6 weeks. If you want to travel this fall, you need to apply now for regular service or within the next month for expedited service.
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We’ve had several writers apply for renewals during Covid-19. One writer is still waiting six weeks later. Her three day mailing took 2 full weeks to get there. Another friend, applying for her kid’s first passport, received it in less than 5 weeks without expedited service.
The wait can vary wildly as offices in different regions have people out sick or receive lots of applications at once. Our takeaway? If you think you may travel in the next few months, apply now. Even before you’ve planned the trip. Having passport numbers in hand will make every step of planning easier.
What to Do When your Expedited Passport Doesn’t Arrive in Time
If it’s getting close to your departure date and you still don’t have your passport, don’t despair. Take a deep breath, then check online to see where your application is in the process.
If you expedited your passport application and mailed it through your local post office, then check the Online Passport Status System or call 1 877 487-2778 or 1 888 874-7793. Note: It takes 7 to 10 business days for your passport application to be trackable.
If you used a third-party service to expedite your passport, contact that company for assistance first. If that’s unavailable, use the Online Passport Status System or call 1 877 487-2778 or 1 888 874-7793.
And remember to send all passport applications via USPS Priority Mail with a tracking number or use FedEx or UPS.
Although it’s truly a consolation prize, if delayed service impacts your travel, you can get a refund of the expediting fee if the passport doesn’t arrive in the promised timeline. Find out more details.
Types of Expedited U.S. Passport Service
In October 2018, I renewed my passport. First, I filled out the DS-82 (U.S. Passport Renewal Application form) online and printed it out. Then I got new photos and sent it all in with my old passport.
Since I chose to expedite it myself, I paid an additional $60 fee. Then I mailed it to the specific facility for expedited passport applications via USPS Priority Mail. I didn’t used the return 1 to 2-day shipping option, but luckily I got my passport within the two weeks. Of course, that was before Covid-19. Times for expedited passports now can run 4-6 weeks.
When my husband replaced a stolen passport five years ago, he got a replacement the same day. First he collected the required information. Then he secured an appointment at a passport agency in the neighboring state.
This chart will help you determine your own situation and address it properly. Read more about each situation below the chart.
|Reason You Need Expedited Passport||Proof Needed for Expedited Passport||Where to Apply|
|Life-or-Death Emergency for immediate travel||Proof of emergency required||Contact U.S. Department of State|
|Booked International Travel within 2 to 3 weeks||Proof of travel required||Passport Agency or Center with an appointment|
|International Travel in 4 to 6 weeks||No proof needed. Standard Expedited Passport||Expedited at Acceptance Facility or Expedited Renewal by Mail|
|International Travel in more than 6 weeks||No proof needed. Routine Passport||Apply at Acceptance Facility or Renew by Mail|
Life or Death Emergency Passport
If you get that dreaded call and need to travel for a life or death emergency, you can get a “life or death emergency” passport. These passports are issued only if your immediate family member has a serious illness, injury or died and you are required travel internationally within 72 hours.
One of our TravelingMom writers had to get an emergency passport for her newborn baby after a family member fell ill in Europe.
If You Live Within in U.S.
The first step is to call and make an appointment with the emergency passport service. Call 1 877-487-2778 or 1 888 874-7793 Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern Time. The service is closed all federal holidays.
To apply, you will need the following:
- Completed Passport Application with supporting documents and photos.
- Proof of life or death emergency, such as a death certificate, statement from the mortuary or signed letter for the hospital. All letters and certificates need to be in English.
- Proof of International Travel, such as an airline itinerary.
- Passport fees ($110), execution fee ($35) and expediting fee ($60).
Also, check for bereavement fare practices of airlines HERE.
Outside the U.S.
You will have to contact your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
My Passport is Expired and I Leave Tomorrow
Note: Limited services are available from passport expediters right now. Services are taking 4-6 weeks just like expediting a passport on your own.
After saying a few choice words, it’s time to get busy. First cancel your calls; getting your passport within 24-hours will take a more concerted effort. Next, find a registered passport expediter like Passportcenter.com or Rushmypassport.com. These are private companies and not part of the U.S Department of State.
For expedited 24-hour service (not same day), you will still have to collect all the same information as any other U.S. passport renewal. Proof of citizenship, proof of identity and passport photos are all required. Hopefully, you have those items in a safe and secure place.
Expedited Service Details
With an expediting service, you are hiring a person to hand deliver your application to the closest passport office that issues same day passports. Then a person will retrieve and overnight your new passport back to you.
It is expensive. This expedited service costs $499. The outbound shipping costs an additional $49.95. The inbound shipping adds another $29.95 to get it by 3 p.m.[ $39.95 if you need it by 10:30 a.m.
All of that is on top of the $170 fee for the actual passport. (Application fee and Expedite fee), and don’t forget the passport photos — about $15 at most photo centers. The good news? Most expediters take credit cards and your package includes tracking information.
The process starts when you fill out the expediter’s online application. Print out the completed application with the required documentation and photos and ship it to the nearest expediter’s location.
You’re Leaving in 2 Weeks
So your boss hands you a plane ticket to check on the London office and your passport is expired. First grab the tickets, then make an appointment for the next available date at the nearest U.S. Passport Agency.
If you need to get a U.S. passport renewal in two weeks or less, then a trip to the closest passport center or agency will be required. Find a passport center or agency across the country that issues same day passports. Gather and complete all requirements, then take passport photos. In addition remember appointments are necessary and often fill up days in advance.
Passport Agencies Across the U.S.
Arkansas Passport Center in Hot Springs, Arkansas
Atlanta Passport Agency in Atlanta, Georgia
Boston Passport Agency in Boston, Massachusetts
Buffalo Passport Agency in Buffalo, New York
Chicago Passport Agency in Chicago, Illinois
Colorado Passport Agency in Aurora, Colorado
Connecticut Passport Agency in Stamford, Connecticut
Dallas Passport Agency in Dallas, Texas
Detroit Passport Agency in Detroit, Michigan
El Paso Passport Agency in El Paso, Texas
Honolulu Passport Agency in Honolulu, Hawaii
Houston Passport Agency in Houston, Texas
Los Angeles Passport Agency in Los Angeles, California
Miami Passport Agency in Miami, Florida
National Passport Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
New Orleans Passport Center in New Orleans, Louisiana
New York Passport Agency in New York, New York
Philadelphia Passport Agency in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
San Diego Passport Agency in San Diego, California
Seattle Passport Agency in Seattle, Washington
San Francisco Passport Agency in San Francisco, California
San Juan Passport Agency in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Vermont Passport Agency in St. Albans, Vermont
Washington Passport Agency in Washington, D.C.
Western Passport Center in Tucson, Arizona
How to Get Your First Passport
All adult passport applications for U.S. residents require the same information, expedited or not. Hopefully you have this information in a secure place in your home, like a fire safe.
First download the correct form from the U.S. Department of State (DS-11) or pick one up from your post office. Then gather the required information and get photos taken.
If it’s your first passport (or you’re under 16 or have a lost/stolen passport), you will be required to appear in person. Usually the local post office processes passport applications with required documentation and photos.
First, call to confirm your post office takes passport applications. Then arrange an appointment to submit your application. Follow the U.S. passport application instructions carefully.
TravelingMom Tip: Don’t make these mistakes when applying for your child’s first passport.
Proof of U.S. Citizenship
To prove your citizenship, most applicants use the following:
- Previous passport, can be expired.
- Official certified birth certificate, with full name, date and place of birth, sex, date the birth record was filed and seal or other certification of the official custodian of such records (state, county or city or town office) and the full names of your parents.
Proof of Identity
Along with proof of U.S. citizenship, you will be required to submit proof of identity. If you already have a passport, it can also be used for proof of identity.
Another option: submit an item that contains both your signature and a photograph, like a U.S. passport card, a driver’s license, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship, military identification or federal, state or municipal government employee identification card.
Temporary or altered documents will not be accepted and names must match exactly.
A recent photograph (six months or newer) is required according to the passport specifics. You can take it yourself, though it’s easier to head to a photo processing place, like your local drugstore or grocery store. Most places charge less than $20 for two photos.
If you’re in a rush, there are some ways to take these photos at home. If you’re not in a rush there are definitely some free options for passport photos.
|Type of Passport||Application Fee||Execution Fee|
|First Time Adult Passport||$110||$35**Paid to Acceptance Facility|
|Minor Passport (under 16)||$80||$35**Paid to Acceptance Facility|
|1 to 2 Day Return Delivery Fee||$16.48|
Passports aren’t free. You can pay using a personal check, traveler’s check, major credit card, bank draft or cashier’s check, or money order (U.S. Postal, international or currency exchange).
Make checks payable to the U.S. Department of State within the U.S. for the application fee, expedite fee and expedited shipping fee. Additionally, a second check is required for the execution fee.
- Since the U.S. Department of State is a stickler for details, fill out the applications correctly. Double check all applications.
- Only use black ink on the passport application. Using any other color could get it denied and sent back.
- Be sure to read all guidelines for passport photos. You cannot wear glasses in photos. Don’t do anything to get your photo rejected.
- If you find the passport requirements confusing, hire a service to renew your passport.
- Mail all passport applications USPS Priority Mail with a tracking number or use FedEx or UPS.
- When you get your passport back from the U.S. Department of State, store all important documents in a fireproof safe.