A friend of mine was recently advised that both of his daughters had been selected to play on the local soccer club’s upcoming international competition. The event was scheduled in less than two weeks with one match being played in Seattle, Washington and the other across the Canadian border in Vancouver, British Columbia. Problem is that a few years ago both Canada and Mexico required US Passports for entry instead of just a valid drivers license.
One of his daughters was fine as she had competed for the club in the UK the year before and had a passport, but the other didn’t have a passport and
was very upset with her dad that she wouldn’t be able go. As he put it, “I can’t afford to spend $260 for an emergency passport.”
Thankfully he doesn’t have to!
An unexpected trip, thinking your passport has another year on it when it doesn’t,
lost the passport in the recent move, it doesn’t matter you can get a passport in record time. The US State Department recognizes that situations arise where you have to get a passport quickly and have created a process for getting an Emergency Passport via mail and electronically . Unfortunately, their rates can be rather expensive.
Expedited Passport Service Options:
- Same days services – $349.00,
- 24 Hours Next Day – $299.00,
- 2 – 3 Days Business Services – $249.00,
- 4- 5 Days Business Services – $199.00,
- 6 – 9 Business Days – $149.00,
- 10 – 12 Business Days – $99.00.
Regional Passport Agencies to the Rescue
If you need a passport very quickly, your the best option is to apply at a U.S. Department of State Passport Agency. The expedited fee of $60 is required for each application submitted in person at a Passport Agency or Center but that is a reasonable price to get your passport quickly.
There are authorized 28 passport agencies around the country and in Puerto Rico. Unless you live in Alaska, chances are that you can find one less than a 5-8 hour drive away. There are a couple of things you need to remember before you make your trek to the agency:
- Appointments are required to apply at U.S. Department of State passport agencies. Call 1-877-487-2778; TDD/TTY: 1-888-874-7793 to make an appointment 24/7.
- Most passport agencies require proof of travel within two weeks in order to make an appointment although some do not. Check the requirements for your specific agency before you go.
Once you have your appointment, double check on the agencies website, but here is a general list of What to Bring:
- Appointment confirmation number
- Completed forms (see How to Apply for a Passport for just about everything you need)
- All required supporting documents
- Certified U.S. Birth Certificate
- Previous U.S. Passport (may be expired, must be undamaged)
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad
- Certificate of Naturalization/CitizenshipEvidence of U.S. Citizenship
- Photo Identification
- Valid Driver’s License (plus a second ID if issued in a different state than where you apply)
- Undamaged U.S. Passport (if issued less than 15 years ago)
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Valid government ID (city, state, or federal)
- Valid Military ID
- A Passport Photograph (I recommend Walgreens for this)
- A major Credit Card, Debit/Check card (not ATM cards), Check, Bank Draft, Cash (Exact Change), or Money Order to cover the application and expedited fees
Double, no triple check the list of requirements with US State Department Passport and the Regional Passport Agency. While they are unlikely to change a round trip back home isn’t worth it.
If a Regional Passport Agency is too far way of inconvenient I would recommend using a visa agency which I describe in the Visa section below.
A visa is an endorsement on your passport that allows you to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period of time in a country. A good number of countries don’t require a visa for US travelers though some do. Visa Networks has a little app that will tell you the requirements for each country you’re visiting.
If you have more than 4 weeks before your trip the Regional Passport Agency might be able to handle the processing of your Visa as well. However, I make it a practice to just use an agency that specializes in this work. Generally speaking they have the relationships and the networks to handle your visa needs. They are almost always located in the major cities along side the foreign consulates that will process the visa.
I personally have used Visa Networks on multiple occasions over the last 10 years and highly recommend them. One call to them to double check what I need and then overnight my passport to them and I’m all set. I don’t have to worry about it and turn around can be as little as 3-5 days.
It’s only happened to me once, but there was one time when I had to fly to San Fransisco for the day to get a visa for India. For whatever reason, India decided that only one third party agency could process their visa requests and you had to be there in person.
To illustrate how bizarre the process was consider the day. I left Denver at 6 am and arrived in San Fran around 7:30. Caught the BART downtown and walked 10 blocks to the agencies site. Had a short interview before 10am and then waited till 6:15pm for the agency to return with the visas. With a 7:30pm flight home, when they asked if anyone had and immediate reason to leave I raised my hand. They told me to show proof of my flight so I showed them my boarding pass on my cell phone.
“You know you’re not suppose to have your cell phone on in our office!” the agent told me.
“You asked for proof of my flight.” I said.
He gave me my passport with an updated Visa. I caught the BART back to the airport and made my flight back home to Denver.
Thank goodness this policy has changed and I should never have to be in person again for a visa. Agencies like Visa Networks are more expensive than submitting the visa yourself, but they are worth the cost in time and aggravation.