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You never thought it could happen to you: you have the chance to go on the trip of a lifetime – but it’s a last-minute opportunity and you don’t have a passport! Or maybe you do have a passport, but you’ve just realized it’s expired and your plane leaves in days. Whatever the scenario, you need a passport, and you need it ASAP. Standard passport service through the post office currently averages up to 9 weeks, but don’t panic! We’re going to walk you through how to get an expedited passport, step-by-step.
Step 1: Decide How Quickly You Need Your Passport
If you’re planning to leave the country sooner than later, you’ll likely need some type of expedited passport service. If you want to get your passport in time, it’s important to choose the right expediting method from the list below.
Expedited Passport Service at the Post Office
You can request expedited service at the post office (or another passport acceptance office). You’ll pay a $60 expediting fee along with your regular application fees. And if you want overnight delivery, you’ll pay an additional shipping fee. Expediting at the post office can take up to 5 weeks and is not guaranteed. If there are any issues with your documents, your passport will be delayed.
Pro Tip: Is your post office always busy and slow? Use this tool to look for other passport acceptance offices nearby. For example, you might be able to apply at a local library or county clerk’s office.
Expedited Service at a Passport Agency
If you’re leaving in 8 days or less, you can make an appointment at one of the State Department’s regional passport agencies. You are also eligible for an appointment if you’re leaving in the next month and need to get a visa before you travel. Passport agencies will generally get your passport to you within 8 business days. But if you need it sooner, they will try to accommodate you.
At a regional passport agency, you’ll pay the same additional $60 expedite fee you’d pay if you were applying for passport expedited service at the post office.
What’s the catch? There are only 26 regional passport agencies serving the entire country. So, you may have to travel to get to the nearest one. Also, passport agencies tend to have limited operating hours and an appointment is often required. If you work during the day and can’t get time off, this may not be an option for you.
Using a Passport Expediting Company
If you’re in too much of a hurry to wait for the post office, but you can’t (or don’t want to) make it to a nearest regional passport agency, then consider using a passport expediting company. A registered passport expediting company will hand-carry your application documents to the Department of State, for processing in as little as 7 business days. Then, they’ll ship your new passport back to you, usually overnight.
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Even if you have 9 weeks before you leave, an expediting company might be a good idea. Some companies offer a less expensive, basic option that still gets your passport to you in up to 5 weeks. Using an expediter reduces the chance of mistakes that could delay your application. If there is a holdup at the passport office, the expediting company can inform you immediately so you can correct it.
If you decide to use an expediting company, the first thing you’ll do is place an order. When you place the order, you’ll pay the expediting company for handling your application for you. Then, you’ll pay the government fees separately. And yes, you’ll have to pay the $60 government expedite fee as well.
Step 2: Gather Your Documents
If you’re using an expediting company, that company will probably help you gather the documents you need. At RushMyPassport, we send out a detailed checklist and assign a case manager to help you with any questions or problems.
What documents do you need to get a passport? It depends. Below, we’ve listed the requirements for the most common passport scenarios.
If you’ve never had a passport before, or if your current passport is not eligible to renew by mail, then you’ll need the following documents:
- Proof of Identity: State Department-approved photo IDs include a driver’s license or state ID card, a previous US passport or passport card, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship, military ID or government ID card. You’ll need the original and a photocopy of the front and back.
- Proof of Citizenship: Submit either a previous US passport, a certified birth certificate, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship, or Consular Report of Birth Abroad.
- One passport photo.
- Passport fees. For new passports, there’s an application fee of $130 for a passport book, $30 for a passport card and $160 for both. There’s also an execution fee of $35, as well as a $60 expedite fee. Learn more about passport fees here.
- Passport Application Form DS-11
- Going to a Passport Agency or using an expediting service? You’ll need a copy of your itinerary, too. However, business travelers who haven’t booked a flight yet can use a letter from their employer.
Lost or Stolen Passports
If you’ve lost your passport, or it’s been stolen, you’ll need to apply for a new passport. You’ll need everything that’s listed under new passports, plus Form DS-64, Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen U.S. Passport. You can learn more about how to replace a lost passport here.
Passports for Children
To apply for a passport, children must appear at a post office or passport acceptance office in person.
For children under 16, both parents must come in with the child. Bring the following documents:
- Proof of identity for the parents, as described above.
- Proof of citizenship for the child.
- Evidence of the child’s relationship to the parents or guardians, such as a birth certificate or court order.
- One passport photo.
- Passport Application Form DS-11
- Passport fees. The passport application fees for children are $100 for a passport book, $15 for a passport card and $115 for both. The execution fee remains $35, and the expedite fee is still $60.
- Going to a Passport Agency or using an expediting service? You’ll need a copy of your itinerary, too.”
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If only one parent can make it, bring one of the following:
- Form DS-3053, filled out, notarized and signed by the absent parent.
- Proof of sole custody, if applicable, or a death certificate if the other parent is deceased.
- If you don’t know where the other parent is, include form DS-5525 explaining why you are not able to contact them.
Children 16 and 17 can apply by themselves if they have their own identification, but it’s best to bring at least one parent to demonstrate “parental awareness.”
You may be eligible to skip the passport office altogether if you already have a passport. If all the following statements apply to your most recent passport book or card, you can use Form DS-82 and renew by mail.
- Your most recent passport is still in your possession and has never been reported lost or stolen.
- It’s less than 15 years old.
- It was valid for a full 10 years and not a limited validity passport.
- It is in the name you currently use OR you can submit legal documentation like a marriage certificate or court order to support a name change request.
If you’re not eligible to renew by mail, follow the instructions above for applying for a new passport.
If you are eligible, you’ll need the following:
- Your most recent US passport (book or card).
- Passport renewal application Form DS-82.
- One passport photo.
- Passport fees: $130 for a passport book, $30 for a passport card, $160 for both, plus the $60 expedite fee. You can learn more about passport fees here.
- Going to a Passport Agency or using an expediting service? You’ll need a copy of your itinerary, too. However, business travelers who haven’t booked a flight yet can use a letter from their employer. Going to a Passport Agency or using an expediting service? You’ll need a copy of your itinerary
Step 3: Fill out the application.
Next, fill out the application form. If you can, fill out the form online and print it. This will ensure that your application isn’t delayed because the passport office can’t read your handwriting.
If you don’t have access to a printer, you can get a copy of the application at the post office. Fill it out in black ink, and write neatly.
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If you’re using Form DS-11, don’t sign it until you’re in front of an agent at the post office!
Step 4: Go to the passport office (if required).
Unless you’re doing a passport renewal by mail, you’ll have to go to the post office even if you’re using a passport expediting company.
If you’re not using an expediting company, the post office will review your documents and send the application off to the State Department for processing in 5-7 weeks.
If you are using an expediting company, the passport agent will “seal” your application packet for you. You’ll follow the company’s instructions to ship your application to them for processing in the time frame you ordered.
Pro Tip: If you’re applying at a regional passport agency, be at least 30 minutes early to allow for security screening. And remember, you must be there at your designated appointment time, but that doesn’t mean a passport agent will be able to see you immediately. Just like a doctor’s office, you might have to wait to be seen. So, allow some extra time.
Step 5: Wait for your new passport to arrive.
Now, the only thing left to do is wait. If you expedited through the post office, you can track your application here.
If you used an expediting company, you should receive updates on your order as its processed. If you use RushMyPassport, you can track your order here, and agents are available by phone, email or live chat to assist you if you have further questions.
Need a passport, fast? Don’t have the time or the patience for a trip to a passport agency? Check out our expedited passport services or visit a FedEx Office location near you and see why RushMyPassport is the most convenient way to get a passport in a hurry!