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It's every traveler's worst nightmare: You're in a rush getting ready for a big international trip, pulling out your passport … only to find it's expired – or will soon. Trust me, it can be a simple and relatively easy to take care of through the Urgent Travel Passport Service.
With our honeymoon just a month or so away, my wife and I panicked as we realized her passport would expire within a few months of our trip to Tanzania and Kenya – two countries that, like many, require at least six months of passport validity for an entry visa. If you search for “last-minute passport” in a rush like I did, you'll see far too many third-party companies offering to shepherd you through the process for exorbitant fees of up to $800. Don't bite in an emergency! You can still get your passports easier working on your own.
So long as you live near a U.S. passport agency location (or can make a quick trip there), you can work straight through the government's own Urgent Travel Service, which is meant for instances when your international travel is too close for traditional expedited passport service but you don't have a life-or-death emergency that requires a last-minute passport.
After about 90 minutes of work and $190 total, my wife's new passport was ready – and our honeymoon went off without a hitch. Here's how to get a last-minute passport.
How Fast Do You Need a Passport?
How far away you are from your date of travel is the most important factor in what kind of renewal you need for your U.S. passport – and whether you might need an urgent travel passport or even a last-minute passport.
If you need to travel tomorrow, you'll need an emergency or urgent travel appointment. If you aren't flying another two months, a routine passport renewal will do (and you can soon renew your passport online, too!)
Here are the types of passport renewals:
Emergency Passport Renewal
Emergency passport renewals are for travelers who have life-or-death emergencies that requires international travel within 72 hours, according to the state department.
There are limited appointments set aside for this service at every passport agency, and you must call to make an emergency appointment like you do for Urgent Travel Service. To qualify for this passport expedition, you need to prove a qualifying life-or-death emergency and prove you have upcoming travel.
The cost is $60, plus the standard $130 cost of your passport book.
Urgent Travel Passport
Urgent Travel Passport Service is the route we took, and you don't need a good excuse to take advantage of the service. Our excuse: I'm a bonehead and forgot to check our passports while planning our honeymoon…
According to the State Department, you can use this service if you have international travel plans within 14 days.
Travelers must schedule an appointment with an agency by phone and provide proof of travel with 14 days. Importantly, you can also use the Urgent Travel Passport Service within 21 days of travel if the country you are traveling to requires a visa. That is what we did for our trip to Tanzania and Kenya, as both required visas for American travelers.
The cost is $60 plus the $130 cost of your passport book.
Expedited Passport Renewal
Expedited passport renewal is for travel within three to five weeks.
Notably, the state department says processing times begin as soon as your application arrives – not the day you mail your application. For this reason, it's important to do the expedited passport application online. More on that later.
The expedited passport service can be done at an acceptance facility or by mail. The cost, again, is $60 plus the $130 cost of renewing your passport.
Normal Passport Renewal
If your travel is more than six weeks away, you may want to use the traditional passport renewal service. No need to rush.
The state department says routine passport renewal takes six to nine weeks to process. It can also be done by mail, at an acceptance facility, or soon, online.
Read more:With Delays of 3+ Months, Passport Wait Times are Getting Even Worse
How to Make an Urgent Travel Passport Appointment
So let's say you're traveling soon and need to use the Urgent Travel Passport Service. How do you go about getting an appointment?
The first thing you need to do is call the national passport agency phone number … but the timing of your call is important.
The agencies will only make you an emergency appointment if you call within 14 days (or 21 days, if you need a visa to enter the country you're visiting) of travel. If your trip is 15 days away, you may not be able to make an appointment.
The phone number for the U.S. Passport Agency is 1-877-487-2778. I'd recommend calling right away in the morning like we did to make sure you get your desired appointment time.
It's important to note that the person who is requesting the passport must be the one who calls and shows up for their appointment. This is a way to ensure that third-party services cannot book up all the appointments from people who need them.
Passport Agency Locations in the U.S.
There are 26 different passport agencies throughout the United States. All of them are located in major U.S. cities, which means you might need to travel to one if you aren't located nearby.
For our Urgent Travel Passport Service, we used the Minneapolis location. Here is a list of the Passport Agency locations in the United States:
- Little Rock, Arkansas (Hot Springs)
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Buffalo, New York
- Chicago, Illinois
- Denver, Colorado (Cherry Creek)
- Stamford, Connecticut
- Dallas, Texas
- Detroit, Michigan
- El Paso, Texas
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Houston, Texas
- Los Angeles, California
- Miami, Florida
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Portsmouth, New Hampshire
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- New York, New York
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- San Diego, California
- San Francisco, California
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Seattle, Washington
- Burlington, Vermont (St. Albans)
- Washington, D.C.
- Tuscon, Arizona
You can find the full list, with addresses, hours of operation, and phone numbers at the State Department website.
How to Prepare for Your Urgent Travel Passport Appointment
Once you call the passport office and make your appointment, you'll receive an email confirmation of the appointment. This will include the location of your appointment, the time, and any other building entry requirements there might be.
It will also include a detailed list of the things you need to bring to your appointment.
What to Bring to Your Urgent Passport Appointment
As is always the case with travel, more is more. Bring everything and anything you need to identify yourself or prove your travel to your appointment just in case because you'll be in a rush. But here is the absolute minimum.
A Completed Passport Application
The first thing you need to do after you hang up the phone to schedule your appointment is to fill out the passport application online. You don't have to do this part online, but it helps speed up the process and reduce any errors you might make while doing it by hand. Luckily, doing this online is really simple using the “form filler” tool.
You can find the U.S. Passport online application here and fill it out in a matter of minutes. You'll need to print it upon completion and bring it to your appointment.
If you are renewing your passport, you will need your old one to fill out the application.
You will also need a new passport photo – even if you are just renewing your passport … and this is not as easy as it seems. There are some strict rules for what you can use for a passport photo, but the state department pretty clearly outlines them on their website here.
For instance, you cannot take your photo of yourself (no selfies), you cannot wear eyeglasses, you must have a plain white or off-white background, you cannot retouch or digitally alter the photo, and you have to have a “neutral” face expression.
You can use the state department's photo tool to see if your photo complies.
Passport renewal fees are pretty reasonable and are the main reason why we decided to get my wife's passport urgently renewed on our own instead of using a service to do it.
In total, the Urgent Travel Passport Service will cost you at least $190. That includes the usual $130 passport book renewal fee plus another $60 for Urgent Travel service.If you need 1-2 day delivery on your passport if you applied through the mail, that will cost another $18.32.
If you're applying for a passport for the first time as an adult (16+), you must pay a $35 execution fee and then the $130 passport book fee.
If you renew your passport at a passport agency, like you would using the Urgent Travel Service, you can use credit cards, checks, money orders, or cash to complete the transaction, too.
Proof of International Travel
In order to be eligible for Urgent Travel Passport Service at your appointment, you need to prove that you're traveling within 14 days (or 21 days for countries that require visas). That means you need to print out your travel itinerary with your name on it and bring it to your appointment.
As always with travel, I would adhere to the “more is more” rule and bring your entire itinerary in case anyone at the agency has any questions.
Your Old Passport
If you are renewing your passport using the Urgent Travel Passport Service, you also need to bring your old passport to the appointment.
Name Change Documents (If Needed)
If you are changing your name on your passport, you need to bring all the requisite name change documents to the appointment as well.
Other Things for Travel
If you have an emergency passport appointment, you also have to bring your proof of “life-or-death emergency” to the appointment, along with your upcoming travel booking.
If you are getting an Urgent Travel passport for a child under 16, both of the child's parents have to be at the appointment.
Read more:How to Get a U.S. Passport for a Baby
How Long Does it Take to Get Your Last Minute Passport?
If you get an Urgent Travel Passport appointment, the agency will get you your passport before you travel, whenever that is. That's the beauty of these in-person appointments.
In our case, my wife had her appointment exactly 15 days before our trip. Her meeting was very quick and easy, and the passport center in Minneapolis said her book would be available for pickup the next day. When she arrived the next day, they told her to come back again the next morning after a snafu. She was there right when they opened the following day and picked up her shiny new passport booklet.
In total, it was about 36 hours from the passport appointment to when her new passport was ready for pickup.
Make sure to take into account any time it will take to travel to and from the passport agency for both the appointment and the passport pickup when you're booking your Urgent Travel Passport appointment.
I still wouldn't recommend waiting until a month before an international trip to check your passports. But if it happens to you, getting a last-minute U.S. passport doesn't have to be stressful or expensive – and you definitely shouldn't use an expensive third-party service to get it done for you. Just don't rush things too much.
After realizing that my wife's passport would expire too soon for us to get a visa for our honeymoon to Tanzania and Kenya, we were able to get an Urgent Travel Passport Service appointment and a brand new passport for her all in a matter of days. The entire ordeal cost $190.
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We have two types of appointments: Life-or-Death Emergency Service and Urgent Travel Service. You cannot walk-in. We do not charge a fee to make an appointment. You can only make an appointment by calling 1-877-487-2778.What if my passport has not arrived in time? ›
If you have been waiting more than 8 weeks, contact the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 to report that you have not received your documents.Can I travel with an expired passport? ›
Is it possible to travel with an expired passport? The quick answer is "no," at least if you leave the country. A passport that has expired is not accepted for overseas travel. If your passport has expired or will expire within the next six months, you must renew it.Can you get a same day passport in DC? ›
The Washington Passport Agency provides same day processing of passport applications for customers whose departure date is within 14 days or who need to obtain a travel visa within 28 days. If that is your case, you first need to schedule an appointment by calling the automated system toll-free, 24 hours a day.Can you get a passport in one day in New York? ›
Passports and Visas.com's New York, NY office assists travelers obtain who need passports expedited in Ne York as fast as 24 hours/same day.What is the fastest you can expedite your passport? ›
Expedited service takes 7-9 weeks. You can expedite at an acceptance facility or expedite a renewal by mail. Mailing times are not included in processing times.How long are passports taking? ›
How long does it take to renew a passport? According to the government's website, you should allow up to 10 weeks for an online passport renewal.Can a US citizen travel back to the US with an expired passport? ›
Citizens to the United States. U.S. citizens will not be allowed to use their expired U.S. passport for direct return to the United States after June 30, 2022. If a U.S. citizen overseas has an expired U.S. passport, please contact your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for a U.S. passport.Can I book a flight while waiting for my passport? ›
You may book a flight before having your passport in hand. Please just make sure that you make your booking the same name/spelling as it will be on your passport. *For security reasons, you will be refused to board your flight if the ticket and the passport name/spelling are not the same.How long is a passport good for after it expires? ›
To avoid this issue, check your passport expiration date and renew it if you have six months before it expires. While you can renew your adult passport for up to five years after it expires, you will not be able to travel with your passport if it expires soon. So renew your passport early!
If you are traveling within the next two weeks, you may be able to visit the U.S. Passport Office for same-day or next-day processing. Please contact my office for additional assistance. My office is always available to assist you with the issuance or renewal of your passport.Is Rush My Passport legit? ›
Rush My Passport is a legitimate company, but you should know what you're paying for and how to make the most of the service. If you're concerned about RushMyPassport being a scam, then it might be reassuring to know that the company has partnered with a few recognizable and reputable companies such as FedEx and AAA.Can a US citizen enter the US without a passport? ›
U.S. nationals, including U.S. dual nationals, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States. U.S. dual nationals may also be required by the country of their foreign nationality to use that country's passport to enter and leave that country.Can I use my birth certificate to go to Mexico? ›
To clarify, U.S. citizens entering Mexico must present proof of citizenship (such as a certified copy of a birth certificate), photo ID and proof of sufficient funds. A passport and visa are not required of U.S. citizens entering Mexico for tourism or for transit for stays of up to 90 days.