There are many situations in which a US passport is needed quickly. These could range from sudden, unexpected trips abroad to lost, stolen, or damaged passports that need to be replaced. Fortunately, there are options available, including having a new or renewal passport delivered in as little as 24 hours after a passport expediting agency receives your application and documents.
How to Get Your Passport in 2-14 Days
Ignore the advertising that claims you can have a US Passport within 24 hours. What they’re not saying is that the clock starts once the passport expediting agency receives your paperwork. It is possible, however, to have your new or renewal passport in your hand within 2-3 days after starting the process. For this, you need a passport expediting agency.
Make sure to use a government approved agency like RushMyPassport, which offers services ranging from new passports to extra passport pages (many countries require that you have 2-4 blank visa stamp pages to enter). The fees vary depending on how fast you need the passport, with 1-day service being the most expensive, of course. RushMyPassport was recommended to me by two people, one a client and the other an acquaintance, both of whom were pleased with the service they received. Other passport agencies offer similar services and fees.
Here is a rundown of the services and schedules offered by RushMyPassport:
- New passport
- Passport renewal
- Child passport
- Lost / stolen / damaged passport
- Passport pages
- Name changes
- Second passport
These times are processing times once the company has received your documents, which generally takes an additional business day or longer.
- 24 Hour service
- Next Day service (2 business days)
- Priority service (3-4 business days)
- Rush service (5-7 business days)
- Standard service (8-12 business days)
How Expedited Passport Processing Works
Visit RushMyPassport and select your service and schedule, and fill out the form to register. You will receive step-by-step instructions for completing the process, including a UPS mailing label to ship your documents and passport photo. The agency will process your documents and courier them to a US passport office. Once your passport is ready, it will be shipped to you.
For a new passport, you must go in person to a US Post Office. For both new and renewal passports, you must send your documents from a UPS office or other business that offers UPS shipping from its location.
How to Get Your Passport in 21-42 Days*
A much cheaper, albeit slower option is to obtain your passport directly from the US Dept of State Bureau of Consular Affairs. You are required to apply in person at a US Post Office or other designated passport acceptance facility for both new passports and renewal passports that have been expired for 1 year or more. Other renewals or replacements can be requested by mail using forms available online, as can extra visa pages. This process normally takes about 4-6 weeks. Fees range from $140-$170.
Expedited service is also available for about $60 additional, which cuts the processing time to about 3 weeks*.
*8 day in-person expedited service available at 28 agency locations across the US. You must be able to show need, such as a life or death emergency and restrictions will apply.
The Best Way to Use Expedited Passport Services – Don’t
As you might imagine, expedited passport services aren’t cheap, and using them should be avoided if at all possible. Incorporating thorough research on passport and visa requirements into every trip abroad will make your life easier and your travels more enjoyable.
A common passport mistake is not having an expiration date far enough into the future. For example, say you have a passport that expires 1 month after your return from your 1 week trip to France. Guess what? The airline is not going to let you board the plane. In a nutshell, here’s why: US citizens are allowed to stay in the Schengen Area (Europe’s immigration control zone which includes France) for 90 days. It makes no difference that your return flight is in a week, because you could change it at anytime. So, your passport must be valid for at least 90 days from the time you enter the Schengen Area. If it’s not, you will be denied entry. Airlines do not let passengers board who will be denied entry to their destination.
In general, your passport must be valid through the visa expiration date for the country you’re visiting, no matter when your return flights are.
If you’re in doubt after your research and your passport expires in less than 9 months, you may want to consider renewing it just to be safe. If possible, use the old-fashioned method of snail mail. It takes the longest but costs the least.