If you travel long enough, you will inevitably face a situation where you need to get something done fast. One such incident occurred last year when my girlfriend could not find her passport on the eve of leaving for a trip to Europe. I asked her to write about her experience and share her tips for how she was able to get a new passport quickly.
Fellow points jet setters! Since this is my first blog post, let me take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Christen, and like the Points Jet Setter himself, I am also a lawyer with a love for travel. Adam and I started dating several years ago, and enjoy traveling together as often as we can.
When Adam first asked me if I would write this post for the Jet Set Blog, I was reluctant to do so. Not because I didn’t think it would be helpful, but because it was a very embarrassing experience for me. I consider myself an experienced traveler, so when I could not find my passport 3 days before I was to leave for Europe, not only was I panicked, but I was mortified! I looked like a total amateur in front of my world traveler boyfriend! You see, traveling is a big deal to both of us, so this was the last thing I ever wanted him to know about! Unfortunately, he was within earshot of cursing and huffing while I tore through my closet and drawers desperately looking for the most important thing you need to travel – a valid passport. There was no hiding my frustration. How could I, a person who’s traveled to nearly 30 countries, not know where my passport is?! And, how could I have waited to the last minute to discover this?! I know better!!
Anyway, it should be no surprise that I am no longer the trusted keeper of my passport, and now both of our passports are kept together – in Adam’s safe.
First and foremost, don’t lose your passport. Don’t wait until the last minute to make sure you have what you need. When you’re planning international travel, make sure you know the whereabouts of this sometimes elusive document and check the expiration date. Most countries require that your travel dates fall outside of six months from the passport expiration date.
Typically, you can get a passport renewed within 3 weeks or less (for an additional charge) by mail. For current processing times, click here. The website is updated daily. However, if you’ve lost your passport OR you are applying for a passport for a first time, the process is more cumbersome – your personal appearance at a passport office is required.
The silver-lining of my horrible experience? Getting to write this post and hopefully helping those of you who may find yourself in a similar situation. Do not panic! There is a way to get a new passport in a day if you find yourself in the dreadful situation I dealt with before my Europe Trip to Praque, Czech Republic and Berlin, Germany.
You will be directed to contact a main number and then directed to make an appointment.
Almost everything you will hear/read will indicate that an appointment is mandatory. This is bad news if you are in the same situation as me, because there will likely be zero appointments available before you are supposed to travel. Although it is recommended for your comfort and ease of service, YOU DO NOT NEED AN APPOINTMENT. I repeat, you do not need an appointment – you can get a passport issued within 24 hours without an appointment.
Every agency representative will tell you the opposite, but from first-hand experience, this just isn’t true. They prefer that you have an appointment and want to deter walk-ins from rushing the passport agencies, but you can go without an appointment.
Here is a list of the agencies that provide the extra expedited service you will need:
When I was in a bind, the closest location was in Miami. I drove down from Orlando (around 3 ½ hours) and got there within 5 minutes of opening at 8:00 AM, and was directed downstairs to a line of people without appointments. The security guards advised that there are at least 50 people that will make it upstairs without an appointment, and sometimes up to 100 desperate people. Once you make it upstairs, you may wait for hours, but you will get a passport. Get there as early as humanly possible. Although I was there within 5 minutes of opening, I was the 66th person in line. Thankfully, I made it upstairs, along with 85 other lucky souls.
Although I did not personally have any luck with this, call the phone number to make an appointment repeatedly. The automated system will tell the caller the time of the next available appointment and give them the option of scheduling that appointment or some other time. Keep calling, because a handful of people were lucky enough to take the appointment of a last minute cancellation.
Once upstairs, I waited a LONG time for my number to be called. Once you get up to the agent, they will want several documents from you. Make sure you have these in advance – they provide extra copies there, but who wants to deal with filling out government forms on top of everything else?
You will need at least 6 things:
- Proof of immediate travel – a printed out copy of your travel itinerary is sufficient.
- Passport photo – Check out PhotoBooth for hasty, hassle-free photos!
- DS-11 – Application for a U.S. Passport – You can complete online OR use the PDF.
- DS-64 – Proof of Lost or Stolen Passport – Print and complete.
- Photo Identification – A state driver’s license is sufficient.
When you submit your application, you must present one of the following primary photo identification documents, AND submit a photocopy of that document. If you do not have any of the below documents, you will need to submit a combination of secondary identification documents with a photo and signature, such as an Expired Driver’s License, State-issued ID Card, Student ID Card, and Employment ID Card.
- 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
- Proof of Citizenship – Here’s what you need for proof of citizenship:
This was another hurdle for me because, as you know, I did not have a copy of any passport, current or expired, and I did not have a certified copy of my birth certificate.
For an additional cost ($150), the agency will let you request a file search to show proof of U.S. Citizenship.
After all was said and done, it cost me a total of $345:
Passport (28-page) Book…………………$70
Although it wasn’t cheap, I had a new passport within 8 hours. Most of the passport agencies will accept Visa, MasterCard, and other major credit cards, so it would only be proper to remind you to get some points or miles out of the expense!
Most importantly, I still made it to Europe and had a spectacular time in Prague and Berlin! Here are a few photos…
Although it can be a hassle and stressful to be running around last minute trying to get a new passport issued, it can be done in a day. Hopefully this will help you to navigate an issue I hope you never have to deal with!