I recently found myself in a situation where I needed to renew my passport instantly due to a death in my family. I needed to travel out the country immediately for the funeral. I ran into a few obstacles along the way and want to help you NOT encounter the same situations. The easiest route for me was to plan a day trip to the U.S. passport agency in Washington, DC and get it the same day.
Alternative based on timing is that you can also get an expedited passport through FedEx. You can complete an online application. There is online assistance from passport advisers with options to ship overnight and track the process. You can also get your passport photo taken at FedEx but, make sure it’s the correct size with a full-frontal view of your face.
**You can download or fill out a U.S. passport application online or get one from your U.S. Postal Office**
Tip: Based on your travel date and reason for traveling will determine the best place for you to apply.
Tip: Do your research so that you have all your necessary documentation needed to verify your identity along with the U.S. passport application and travel itinerary.
Ex: Previous U.S. passport, Previous or Current U.S passport card, Driver’s License, Birth Certificate
Tip: Take a U.S. passport color photo in advance so you don’t have to worry about it on the day of your appointment with the passport agency.
Ex: Make sure it’s the correct size (2×2 inches in size) with a full front view of your face with natural expression with a white or off-white background. I had to take my photo twice due to incorrect size.
Tip: If you are going to the passport agency to get your expedited passport the same day, be prepared to be there for a few hours. My appointment was at 10:00 a.m. and I was done by 2:00 p.m.
Tip: Have your application filled out completely with the appropriate documents you need to prove your identity. They will be checked upon arrival before you can enter the passport agency.
Tip: It’s better to set up an appointment vs. walk-in. You’ll get seen quicker and have your passport back to you within a few hours. I paid an additional fee to also get a U.S. Passport Card.
Tip: When you enter the U.S. passport agency it’s like going through a TSA security checkpoint at the airport. Leave all items that can be viewed as potential weapons in your car. They will be confiscated!
**They will allow you to take it back to your vehicle or have a neighboring business hold it for you.
Ex: Pepper Spray, Pocket Knife, Taser, Permitted Firearms Etc.
Tip: It’s best to use the U.S. passport agency parking lot. You can park there all day for a flat fee and not have to worry about on street metered parking. It’s also right across the street form the agency.
Tip: Payment can be made by check or credit/debit card at the passport agency to process your application.
If you’re not in a rush to get our passport you can go through the regular channels and get an application from the U.S. Postal Service and attend an appointment there. You’ll have your passport back within a 4-6 weeks. You can also pay an additional fee to have it expedited and back to you within 2-3 weeks.
Tip: You can also apply for an expedited passport through your local congressman’s office.
I hope this information helps you should you need your passport in a hurry. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about renewal for another ten years and I’ll renew a few months BEFORE it expires.