We’ve all heard the jokes about how long and tedious obtaining government documents can be. (Cue the DMV horror film music).
But did you know there is a faster way to get your hands on a valid passport? You bet your travel-loving …well, you know.
Here are 5 important tips on how to expedite a passport so you can get on with your travel in record time.
How to Expedite a Passport
First things first, determine whether you are trying to get a brand new passport, a first-time passport, or simply trying to renew.
If you need a first-time passport without extra speed, you will go in person and do the normal application process. If you are renewing a passport that you still possess, you can do this via mail.
Be aware, that you can only renew by mail if you received your passport less than 15 years ago, it’s still in good condition, and it’s still in your possession.
But let’s cut to the chase, here’s how to make this process quicker.
1. Gather Your Documents
Knowing what documents you need and getting them all together can surprisingly, be one of the most time-consuming parts of getting a passport.
So, before you even get started with an application, be sure to get the following items together:
- Proof of U.S. citizenship, i.e. birth certificate, social security card, (if you do not have the physical copy itself, secure a readable photocopy)
- A government-issued I.D., i.e. driver’s license
- A passport photo (you may need to verify with the agency you work through about dimensions and requirements. Some services will take the photo for you, but call ahead and find out to speed things along)
- Application fees
- Your DS-11 form completely filled-out (don’t waste time at the office trying to get this done last minute)
If you’re planning a family vacation, keep in mind that you will need the required documentation for each person traveling with you.
2. Choose a Reliable Passport Service
When you’re in a major hurry, you don’t want to waste time with unreliable or dishonest passport services.
Do your research and choose an expedited passport agency that has experience handling requests for a fair price and in the right time frame.
3. Ask an Expert
We list this tip after #2 because if you’ve chosen a quality passport service, they can take charge for you and determine what type of emergency or speed to classify your request as. A quality service knows what questions to ask and what is required to speed a passport along.
They will be able to sift through your situation and determine the fastest, cheapest, and easiest process.
4. Get Proof of Travel Need
Most passport agencies that offer expedited passports will require you to bring some kind of proof that your international travel needs are immediate.
This can be anything from a signed letter from a mortuary, a physician or hospital, or even a corporate office if you are traveling for business.
5. Determine Level of Emergency
If someone in your family or close to you has died and you must travel quickly, call the U.S. Department of State so you can travel outside the country within the next 72 hours.
Call: 877-487-2778, or 202-647-4000 if you’re calling after normal business hours.
More Help With Travel
Now that you now how to expedite a passport, what about the cost? Getting an expedited passport, traveling internationally, and dealing with tragedy or loss can be a costly experience.
For ideas on getting financial help for your next international trip, check out our post about how to get a vacation loan.