How to Get an Expedited Passport for an International Trip
Panic ensues as an international travel deadline looms and the traveler is without a valid passport. Lost, damaged or expired passports do not get people where they need to go. Processing times for passports have increased since passports or passport cards became necessary for all travel beyond US borders.
The US State Department estimates a four to six-week wait for an ordinary application. This could be either a renewal or a first-time passport. Passport cards, necessary for land and water travel between the US and certain neighbor states, take equally as long to process.
For some travelers, a month to a month and a half is too lang. An expedited passport service can get passports or passport cards turned around in half the time. Sixty dollars more than the regular service, expedited service also requires overnight delivery costs both coming and going. Yet, for those who must travel in a hurry, the service is more than worth it.
The first step is filling out the necessary forms. These will be either DS-11, for first-time applicants, or DS-82, for renewals. The applicant sends the completed form, two photos of the proper size and payment to the passport processing center. Those performing passport renewals must send the old passport as well. It is critical that the applicant write “Expedite” on the envelope. Doing so will help to get the application moving quickly.
Because these documents are so critically important to the applicant, keeping them safe is of paramount importance. For this reason, the State Department suggests shipping them in tough Tyvek envelopes and getting a tracking number.
After five to seven days, the applicant can check his passport’s status online. If all goes well, as generally happens, the passport should make its way back within three weeks. If, however, a delay occurs, further action may be necessary. When a passport’s status has remained unchanged for a while and the travel date is approaching, applicants find assistance from their US representatives. Members of the House and Senate have staff members dedicated to following through on problematic passports. A helpful aide can move a stubborn passport through the system even when all seems lost.