How To Get A Passport Fast

What do you do if you need a passport in less than three weeks? Don’t shell out for one of those passport expediters, call your Member of Congress. They have these things called constituent liaisons, whose whole reason for existence is prodding other executive agencies. This is the number one way to get a passport quickly. Call the district office for your Congress Critter, which is the number that doesn’t start with 202. A list of Members of Congress can be found here. Another thing to try is paying the extra $60 at the USPS for expedited passport service. The best thing to do is, of course, apply early, but if for some reason that hasn’t happened, getting a hold of a constituent liaison is the way to go.

RELATED: How To Get Your Passport On Time
(Photo: Maulleigh)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. failurate says:

    Got my passport in March. Didn’t have to make any calls or ask for expediting or anything, got it in 2 weeks.

    Not sure if I just hit a sweet spot of efficiency and good luck or what.

  2. rmz says:

    Yes, let’s bog down our congressional representatives because we can’t be bothered to submit our applications early.

  3. crabbyman6 says:

    I got my passport about 3 or 4 weeks before the window they gave me. This was last year during the whole “your passport will take at least 4 months to get to you” phase. My wife also got her name changed on her passport and got it in under a month, but maybe that takes less time? I don’t think its really much of a problem anymore as long as you give it about 2 months.

  4. semanticantics says:

    I got my passport in a week and a day, applying in mid January. I paid for expedited service and included an overnight envelope. The clerk said a friend of hers just got theirs in 10 days without expediting.

  5. Zonino says:

    I submitted my application to the post office on June 17th and received in the mail on June 27th. My roommate applied in April and same thing…

    I think those long delays we previously heard about are a thing of the past…

  6. @failurate: Last month we got my son’s passport in about two weeks as well.

    While awesome it also sucked because we had canceled our plans to go see grandma in Canada this week because we didn’t expect to get it on time. Booo government effciency, messin’ with my plans.

  7. donkeyjote says:

    At my job, there is an authorized passport station. They said that normal passports are taking “4 to 5 weeks” as policy, but actually are only taking like 3 weeks, even without expedited service.

  8. mackpayson says:

    My wife and I ordered ours on a Friday afternoon from a very personable and efficient post office employee named Donna (props!). We paid no expediting charge and the two documents and our birth certificates arrived in our mailbox exactly one week later.

  9. No no no.

    Nooooooooo.

    Sigh.

    Please don’t abuse this service!!! It’s not for people who “forgot” to fill out a passport application or renewal. It’s supposed to be for emergencies. Or for when you did fill out a passport application and never got a response from the very messed up and slow passport processing.

  10. wonderlic says:

    you can also go in person to a passport office. There’s a list on the Dept. of State website. You pay an expidited fee but can get it the same day, get pages added, etc. I renewed mine at the office in DC overnight.

  11. tricky69 says:

    @rmz:
    Last year my Mother and Father were going to travel overseas and my Mother needed to update her passport. She sent it five months before they were planning on leaving. Three months and nothing. She called for over a month to try and get it expedited. Nothing happened. Finally a month before leaving she was told to go down to the local passport office. So I went there early with her to make sure everything went well, i.e. 6am. There were already 200+ people in line with similar stories. Some families that had family members get there’s in 2 weeks while others in the same family still had not received theirs. Long story short we got a new passport from the local office after spending the whole day there. Guess what happened to the one that was sent out five months before? She received it 3 day prior to their leaving.

    People in the government are paid with our taxes. They are OUR employees. They can always not do it, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have the *RIGHT* to call upon them nonetheless.

    PS: Go to your local governmental passport office to expedite your passports.

  12. joemama321 says:

    I just had flashbacks. My wife and I sent ours in January last year for a trip at the end of July. After hassling my representative and both senators, it was finally a trip to a blog ([whirledview.typepad.com]) and an email to a very nice person in the New Hampshire passport office that finally got it to me on time. It’s possible that purchasing and flashing two fully refundable tickets (effectively rented) for departure 3 weeks before the **cough** actual trip that moved them along.

    It’s sorted out now, but there were assloads of people missing trips because of the stupid “you need passports to enter Canada and Mexico” rule that eventually got delayed. Worse yet were the people who made their trips but had to stand in line all day after driving hundreds of miles to the regional offices to get them.

    That debacle cost me about 3/4″ of my hairline. Lesson learned: if the government says 12 weeks, 27 weeks might be pushing it in actuality.

    That weblink is good for some horror stories.

  13. thebluepill says:

    I received my passport by mail in 5 days back in April, I only paid for regular service. I used the “passport wizard” to fill out all of the forms on the State Department Website. I took the forms and my birth certificate and driver’s license to a US Postal Facility that offers passport services. They took my photograph at the facility, finished up the paperwork and mailed it for me.
    I was told by the post office staff that the paper passports go through quickly.
    If you elect to receive the new passport “Card” adds a considerable delay at this point.

    The Website for the Wizard is;
    [travel.state.gov]

    To find a Post office with Passport Service acceptance facility;
    [iafdb.travel.state.gov]

  14. joemama321 says:

    Also, as a side note, while obsessing over this last year, I found a document from the State department that was basically an audit document of their process. It turns out that background checks and checks to see that you are actually you are done be actual people, but the amount of time allotted in the process is about 2.5 minutes. Feel safe?

  15. huadpe says:

    I got my passport in one week by applying at a US consulate. They expedite it to hell and back when you’re a US citizen living in a foreign country. The issue date on the passport is the day after I applied, and it was 6 days to mail it to Canada. Worked great…but you need a valid passport to GET to a US consulate or embassy.

    Also, US consulates and embassies can issue you a temporary passport (a piece of paper) which allows you one entry into the US in an emergency. When going there, check in advance what the US citizen hours are, or be prepared to be caught in a crush of people applying for entry visas.

  16. jamesdenver says:

    or you could go get one right now – and not worry about it for the future.

    a passport is also a good backup in case you lose your i.d. in the U.S. too.

  17. joshthephenom says:

    I don’t understand why people just don’t get passports in the first place. Why wait until you plan a trip and then get caught in a time game. They’re good for 10 years. The prices will only go up, so why not get it now, and that way if you need to go somewhere you aren’t at the mercy of the government.

    Even if you don’t think you’ll need to go anywhere, you never know. Maybe a loved one gets injured while on vacation, or a once in a lifetime vacation comes up quickly, you wouldn’t have to worry about it.

  18. SBR249 says:

    Went to a post office, paid the regular fee, got my passport in my hands in exactly 7 days. It seems that the philly DoS office is really efficient…

  19. yungjerry703 says:

    hahaha i live in the D.M.V. (Dc, Maryland, Virginia)area so i just ride up to dc and i can get it same day.

  20. 9900dude says:

    You don’t need a passport to get into Canada or Mexico until 2009:

    [studenttravel.about.com]

    The wife, kids, and I just went a few weeks ago with our driver’s licenses & birth certificates, and the kids’ birth certificates.

  21. 9900dude says:

    Went to Canada, that is. :)

  22. Negative says:

    This is what happened to me.

    About a year ago my wife and I decided to go on vacation to Cancun for our anniversary. We made our reservations and while I was purchasing our plane tickets I realized that I needed a passport.

    I checked the Passport website and it said that the standard processing time was under seven weeks. I also checked with the Post Office passport people and they also said it would take under seven weeks. I was almost nine weeks away from my trip so I figured I was good to go.

    I went into the Post Office and submitted my application. At the last minute I asked the woman who was assisting me if I should expedite it. She said, “How long until you leave?” I said, “About nine weeks.” She said, “No, you should be fine. Just make sure you call them and check the status after two or three weeks.”

    About three weeks later I call to check on the status. After being on hold for almost an hour I spoke to rep that told me that my application was fine and I’d get it before my trip.

    I waited three weeks, and decided to check on it again, so I called back and waited on hold for almost two hours. Finally a rep answered and I asked about the status of my passport. He said that it was still three weeks out!

    I explained to him that my trip was two weeks away and that everyone had told me that I would get my passport in less than seven weeks until now. He explained that they had suddenly had a huge influx of applications so now the process was taking a lot longer. I was about to have a heart attack but then he told me that he’d expedite my application and that I should have it before my trip. That called me down a little and we ended the call.

    So far I was happy that all the reps I’d talked to were friendly and helpful but I was starting to get a little nervous since my trip was only a week away so I decided to call back again.

    I had to wait on hold for nearly an hour and then a rep finally picked up. I again asked about the status on my passport and he told me that it was still three weeks out! I told him that there must have been a mistake since the last rep expedited it. He said that they are so backed up that even the expedited passports are being held up. Then he said that he’d put a note in my file and try to get it done in time but he couldn’t guarantee that it would be ready before my trip. He said that there was only one way to make sure I got it and that was to pick it up at the passport office. He told me to come pick it up the day before my flight left.

    I live in Utah. The passport center is in San Francisco.

    So I was planning on driving 8 hours to San Francisco and 8 hours back, non-stop, in order to make my flight. Then the next day I found out that I needed an appointment to pick up my passport. I called the automated appointment system and there were no appointments available! I spoke to a rep and he said they couldn’t help me get an appointment. He suggested I go to the Denver office but I ran the risk of not being able to get one if they had already made one for me in San Francisco.

    I thought I was screwed.

    Then I read an article, which I think was on the Consumerist, that said I should try my Congressman.

    I sent an email to my Congressman explaining my situation and a few hours later his assistant called me. She said that she could help me and got my information. She called me back a few times with updates and finally called to tell me that my passport was being over-nighted to me. I received it the day before my trip!

    Had I not had the assistance of my Congressman I’m sure I would have missed my trip.

  23. Nissan288 says:

    i used to work at an office for a senator and while this does work, I would like to point out what others have said. this is only meant for people who are having serious problems such as missing passports while in foreign countries and so forth. If you have ever seen how an office works, you’ll realize you’re wasting a lot of time that could be used elsewhere.

  24. jamesdenver says:

    @joshthephenom:

    I agree 100%. My 15 month old niece already has a passport. Damn she looks cute on it.

  25. nix-elixir says:

    I just applied for my passport and got it in exactly 7 days. I was floored since the woman at the Post Office told me it would be at least a month. I’m not going out of the country until February so this is great. Don’t know how it is every where yet, but at my post office, it’s now by appointment. Didn’t konw that and just showed up instead. I waited patiently for about 2 hours and the woman processed me when she had a second (it helped that I had everything filled out correctly and had my birth certificate).

    Also, I got a Passport Card for an extra $20 that hasn’t come yet and will apparently show up in a separate mailing. Supposed to be good only in like Mexico, Canada, and the Carribean. Has any one used this yet? Can I leave my real passport in my bag and take the card with instead? Is this a good idea?

  26. tricky69 says:

    @joshthephenom: It’s not just about waiting for a trip. It’s when your passport is about to expire and you need to renew it; that’s what happened in my Mother’s case.

  27. Hitchcock says:

    Don’t bother your congressman. Just pay for expedited service which takes less than 3 weeks (its currently running around 10 days turn around). If you have less than a week to your trip, there’s a phone number on the passport site to call for help expediting it, and if you live near one of the big metropolitan areas, you can go in to the passport center and get your passport in 1-2 hours.

  28. JohnMc says:

    Pssst. The issue isn’t getting a passport fast. Throw enough money at it and you can have it in 72 hours. Now tell us how to get the Visa if one is required for the foreign country of choice……

  29. don’t bother with paying for expedited service…

    i just recently became naturalized and I applied for my passport on Saturday, June 21st and I received it on Monday, June 30th. Maybe I just got lucky. Who knows. I am sure glad I saved $60 bucks on top of the $115 I already spent.

    Eh, ignore what I said. Don’t chance it.

  30. Amelia Subverxin says:

    FYI, the passport card will not be accepted for air travel. It’s really meant for someone who driving across the border to Canada or Mexico.

    After last year’s passport meltdown, I applied for a renewal of my passport in early June, and decided to pay the expedite fee as well to be sure I got it in plenty of time for a trip later this morning. I was told to expect it in 3 weeks, but I had my new passport in 7 days.

  31. czarandy says:

    Most countries let you pay extra to expedite a visa. For example, Russia has various amounts you can pay that range from same day to “whenever we feel like it”.

  32. Leohat says:

    {disclaimer: I work for a travel agency. Doing international destinations}

    Last year was just horrible for getting passports for non-emergencies. Mine took 14 weeks. This year, it is much better but still longer that the estimates.

    I tell people every.single.day. Do NOT book non-essential travel to foreign destinations without having passports and/or Visa’s IN YOUR HAND!

    Do not just apply for them at the same time. Do not have them ‘in process’. Have them in.your.hand.

  33. julieannie says:

    Be careful if you’re getting a new passport and you need to renew a driver’s license. I was faced with that dilemma last year when getting my passport as my birth certificate was MIA with my passport. It arrived just in time for me to renew my license but since then I’ve had back-up original copies of all my vital paperwork so I can renew things.

  34. sir_eccles says:

    I know some guys down the docks that can get you a passport real quick. It’ll cost ya!

    In more realistic news, I second the comment about consulates. I got my passport renewed at the British consulate in Washington in about 2 weeks over Xmas. It cost me about $250 mind you.

  35. Phipps6505 says:

    The Congress critters are good at helping out with this. My brother applied for a passport at the height of the madness last summer – should have had plenty of time, but his company moved the time that he would be traveling. The company had dealt with this before, advised him to call the local rep (happens to be the House Majority Leader). They asked him a few questions, and told him that they generally didn’t get involved in the process until a certain number of days before he left. They gave him a special number to call and instructed him that if the passport didn’t arrive 10 days before he was to travel, to please call and they would help. Turned out he didn’t need the help, the passport arrived shortly before he was to call back.

    He was impressed that they didn’t waste his time or the State Department’s until necessary. Based on his experience, I would say if you’ve got concerns give your rep a call. If you get someone experienced in constituent services, you’ve found a friend!

  36. el_smurfo says:

    Applied in April. Got mine in 4 working days. Guess they can’t wait to get the RFID chipped document into the hands of all us sheeple.

  37. screwtapeletters says:

    You can feel confident about taking this route, especially if you need the passport for studying abroad or some such. I interned at a congressman’s casework office some time ago and these sort of issues are the easy ones to help fix.

    However, if you can avoid it, I would suggest you help yourself and just pay the money. The caseworkers’ time is often better spent helping people sort out SSD debacles and assisting elderly veterans in navigating collection of their benefits, so use your judgment.

  38. Mr. Guy says:

    i got a renewed passport last week. i paid for expedited service and overnight delivery there and back. took 11 days i believe.

  39. That-Dude says:

    @rmz: sarcasm? because your rep is not on the phone making this call.

  40. the_wiggle says:

    @joshthephenom: cost for starters. not everyone can afford the $$ to passport the whole family.

    custodial issues for seconds. as in the hubby’s ex-cow refuses to get or allow us to get passports for his kids. luckily, my ex is not such a p.i.t.a. & while not willing to pay, is willing to sign the requisite forms.

  41. RobGinNC says:

    I applied for a renewal at the end of March and got my new passport in a week. No expediting, just the regular service.

    They’re processing things so much faster than they were last year.

  42. TVGenius says:

    My grandparents recently got passports in less than two weeks, without doing anything special. They were told the cards were delayed and would take about two months.

  43. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @nix-elixir:

    Honestly, if you have a real passport, I can’t imagine why you’d bother with the passport card. It’s for people who don’t want to spend the $ for a full passport, but still need to cross borders (i.e. San Diego folks who go to Tijuana, Buffalo folks who go to Canada, etc.).

  44. mdoneil says:

    What kind of a putz calls their Senator or Member of Congress because they are too stupid to file a passport application in a timely manner.

    If you have relatives overseas have a valid passport in case they get hit by a bus and you have to go over and bring the ski equiptment back for them.

  45. huadpe says:

    @sir_eccles: Great Britain doesn’t have a consulate in Washington, they have an embassy. The consulates are in every other city except the capital. (Well, NY also has the UN mission, but they don’t do passports usually.

  46. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    If you work for a large corporation and your passport is about to run out (= close to or less than 6 months left on it), ask Human Resources if they expedite passports. Your boss might have to send or fax over a letter claiming you need to travel and guessing at the approximate dates of your upcoming trip.

    I was tapped to fly overseas when I noticed my passport had less than 6 months on it, so even though I was not sure when exactly the trip would be, HR made up something and the company paid to have my passport renewed AND expedited. You have to ask, though. They don’t announce it.

  47. rockergal says:

    I went to the post office, applied, got my passport in the mail about a week later

  48. missdona says:

    I renewed via mail in April it took less than two weeks without expediting. I also secured an Australian visa in about two hours with my corporate travel desk.

  49. scudly says:

    I actually just applied for one thinking it’d take a month to get back to me. Imagine my surprise when I got it back exactly a week later.

    I’m thinking it may have had something to do with the fact that I mailed it to the processing location in a priority mail envelope, but either way if you’re looking to renew your passport I’d do it ASAP since there doesn’t seem to be much of a line.

  50. Erwos says:

    I used CIBT, and got my passport the next business day. Literally.

  51. Hanzo says:

    I have no idea if this information is still correct, but I thought I might share anyways:

    I needed to leave the US in under 3 days spring of 2001 (pre- 9/11..)

    I was able to drive to Philadelphia, go to the Passport Control offices, pay an additional fee, wait around for a few hours and get my passport the SAME DAY.

    Again, pre-9/11, YMMV, but worth a shot if all else fails.

  52. Elvisisdead says:

    @twophrasebark: No worries. Congressional staffers have a most excellent filtering device. If you have time to go through normal channels, they won’t do anything but tell you to go through the expedited route and call them back if it doesn’t work.

    @mdoneil: You’d be surprised.

    @Hanzo: Still works, but it’s only available in select major cities. For example, if you’re in Texas you have to go to Houston for the service.

  53. Poshua says:

    I needed a passport on short notice in April 2007, back during the huge processing crush. I called my then-Congressman’s district office (Rep. Jerrold Nadler) and his employee told me that members of congress are no longer able to help with passport issuance. Apparently that’s not true. YMMV.

  54. I got my passport in one week. No joke. I applied on a Friday and I received it the next day. No expediting or calling members of Congress.

  55. I received the the FOLLOWING Friday, I should say.

  56. garykung says:

    I don’t find this article useful at all.

    First of all, those liaisons have limited influence with the government – seperation of power. They can address their concern to the executive departments. But executive departments are only obligated to listen to their boss, the President. Such “help” is only on courtesy but nothing else.

    Secondly, telling those guys just for expediting passports? I think it is better to tell them that how we disappoint with the consumer protection is this country. For such small job, I would rather pay $60. We should ask them to do something more important.

    The most important is no one asks you to apply the passport in the last minute. You should have a sense that when do you need a passport and when you should apply for it.

  57. Phipps6505 says:

    @garykung: Respectfully Gary, my brother’s company requested him to travel unexpectedly. Second, Hoyer’s office didn’t do or plan to do anything abnormal, their plan was to help him get an appointment in DC or Philadelphia to get his passport processed in a day.

    I think Ben’s article is useful – if you’re called unexpectedly to travel and can’t navigate the process without a little help, ask your rep or Senator. They’re not going to intercede unnecessarily, and if you really do need help, that’s what they’re there for (I think).

  58. nix-elixir says:

    @JustThatGuy3:

    It was only an extra $20 and the lady at the passport office said it was helpful when going out on the town and not having to lug the giant passport with you. Also an efficient way to have a backup.

  59. OfficeMaxie says:

    I shelled out an extra $91 for expedited service ($60 fee plus overnight delivery costs), and they sent my new passport(and other sensitive, irreplaceable documentation) to the WRONG ADDRESS.

    This despite having the correct address clearly stated 3 times on the application.

    Good old USPS looked me up in the phone book, in order to deliver it.

  60. I, too, got my passport recently in exactly one week. Applied on a Saturday; arrived the next Saturday. Sweet.

  61. Jesse in Japan says:

    When I was in college, I took a political science class and the professor explained how one time he needed to go abroad for a conference and so he called Bob Dole’s office and was able to get a passport in less than a week.

  62. calstudios says:

    Last year, replaced a LOST passport. Whole process took two weeks through the mail. Very impressed.

    This year, wife had to renew her passport AND change her first name to a common usage name, which required affidavits and a bunch of other crap. She expidited, and this is how fast it happened:

    State dept. received on Monday

    Processed it on Tuesday

    Overnighted it Wednesday

    We received it Thursday

    Four business day turnaround, including mailing.

    I hate to say it, but that’s good government.

  63. lakai says:

    I just renewed my wife’s passport through the mail, no expedite on july 2nd and it came in the mail today, july 12th. 10 days no expedite.

  64. Forty2 says:

    I just paid the expedite fee at the post office and got it renewed in like ten days for an upcoming international work trip, so it appears the backlog bolus has worked its way through the system, no need to call yer critter.