6 Tips for Getting an Expedited US Passport

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Having to rush to get things can be pretty stressful, and expediting a passport is no different. Unfortunately, life circumstances, like a death in the family or a last-minute international business trip, happen, requiring an expedited passport.

You may think you’re in the clear if you already have a U.S. passport, but there are some odd circumstances where you might have to rush and get a new one. For example, if you have to take an emergency trip to South Africa, you will need two blank visa pages in your passport. You might also be required to get a new passport if you look radically different from the photo in your current one.

Regardless, you’ll want to know how to prepare yourself if you need to get an expedited passport. Take a look at these six tips for getting an expedited passport.

Applying for an urgent passport
Applying for an urgent passport

1. Know your time window

For starters, you need to know what type of time window you are working with. There are big differences between trying to get your passport within ten weeks versus two weeks.

If you are working within a window of ten or more weeks, you probably won’t need to expedite your passport. If it’s less than four weeks or a few days, you need a valid reason and proof as to why you need your passport expedited. If approved, you can expect your passport to arrive within three business days.

2. Know what is considered a valid reason

There are two main reasons people need to get expedited passports: A life-or-death emergency or an urgent international trip. Sometimes the two will overlap. You will need to show proof of international travel like a plane ticket or reservation in both situations.

In the case of a life-or-death emergency, you will need to call your respective passport agency and explain the circumstances. You will also need to show proof of the emergency, like a death certificate or signed letter from a hospital or medical professional. It’s crucial the letter is in English or translated into English by a professional.

3. Schedule your appointment ASAP

If you have less than four weeks to get your passport, you will have to apply in person. The main issue is getting an appointment.

Getting an appointment is competitive as spots are limited. Generally, the appointments you see online are what’s available, so trying to call may be futile. Your best bet is to try and schedule an appointment as soon as you know you need to make a trip. If you can’t find an appointment right away, continue to monitor throughout the day and see if one will open up. Sometimes people may cancel their appointments, which can free up a slot.

4. Have the right documents

It is crucial to have all the documents you need to apply for a passport. Failure to have the right documentation can result in having your application delayed or denied.

If you’re applying for a first-time passport, you will need to have the following:

• A completed application form
• Proof of U.S. citizenship
• A photo identification document like a driver’s license as well as a copy
• A check (In some cases, a credit or debit card may be acceptable)
• A photo that meets passport requirements
• Documents that show why you need an expedited passport (Like the aforementioned death certificate and international plane ticket)

If you are renewing your passport, you will also need to submit your current passport. If you lost your passport or it was stolen, you will first need to fill out a form to report its status.

Filling out a passport application
Filling out a passport application

5. Have someone double-check

While not necessary, it’s certainly helpful to have a second set of eyes to check and see if you filled out the appropriate application and have the right documents.

It helps to have someone who has gone through the process of acquiring a passport. It’s even better if you know someone who has had to get an expedited passport.

6. Expect additional fees

This one can go a bit without explaining, but you will have to pay extra to have your passport expedited. The general rate to have your passport expedited is $60.

What may not be as evident is the cost for any additional necessary documents you need. For example, if you need to take a photo that meets passport photo requirements, that may cost you extra if you take a photo through a professional service.

Woman displaying passport
Woman displaying passport

Trying to get an expedited passport can be a tough and intimidating challenge, but it’s worth pursuing, especially in a life-and-death circumstance.

While it’s not guaranteed you’ll be able to get an expedited passport, the best you can do is try and hope everything works out. Do everything you can to make the process go smoothly, and don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t work out in the end.

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Trevor is a freelance writer and a self-proclaimed "Travelholic". He enjoys traveling to parts unknown, sampling local cuisines, and sharing his experiences with the world. In his free time, you can find him planning his next trip or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

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