Sunday, February 17, 2013

How to Replace Your Passport in Less than a Day

One of the biggest travel mistakes I've ever made was realizing my passport was lost less than two weeks before I was scheduled to leave the country.  Cue a crazy mania brought on by the fear that my trip was going to be over before it even started.  

After hours of google searching, I was convinced that the only way to get my passport in a week would be to pay a third party sourcing company outrageous fees upwards of $500.  Thankfully, I found a better and cheaper way to get my passport in a hurry. 

There are twenty five Passport Agencies scattered throughout the country.  These agencies print passports on site, meaning that if you have a morning appointment, your passport will be ready for pickup in just a few hours.  

Although you'll want to visit the closest office to your current location, you might also want to take into consideration which office will be most convenient in the long run.  Instead of visiting the Washington, D.C. location, a notably busy office, I chose to drive forty minutes farther in order to go through the agency in Philadelphia.  

Preparation is key for the process to go smoothly, so you will want to be absolutely sure that you gather all necessary documents ahead of time.  
To replace my missing passport, I needed the following items:

  1. Form DS-11, Application for a US Passport
  2. Evidence of US Citizenship- in my case it was a certified birth certificate *Copies are allowed*
  3. Identification- I used a Driver's License
  4. Since I was using an out-of-state driver's license, I also needed a form of secondary ID like a credit card, social security card, or employee ID
  5. Color photocopies of BOTH front and back of your primary and secondary ID
  6. Proof of international travel in less than two weeks
  7. Passport Photos
  8. Cash or credit card to pay the fee
I was nervous about how high the cost would be, but the cost is actually nearly the same as the expedited passport service which takes up to three weeks.  The cost to replace my lost passport was $195.00

You absolutely MUST make an appointment and arrive at least fifteen minutes early in order to get through security and double check that you have all of the paperwork completed.  After a very quick appointment with agency personnel, you'll be given pick-up time a few hours later.  In order to ensure that you have same day pick-up, take the earliest appointment available.  

Since you cannot use electronics in the waiting area, make the most of your visit to whatever location you choose and visit a few of the local sightseeing locations and restaurants...  Or you can nap in your car.  I chose both; Hey, it was an early morning. 

Make sure you're prepared for your visit!  Carefully check details at the government website, here.  If in doubt, choose caution and call for more information.  

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