Ever wondered what to do if you need to rush your passport?
We all know a US Passport is absolutely necessary for international travel and last year I was planning my first trip – no, I didn’t already have a passport just because. My guy and I both had to apply for passports. No biggie, we’re not felons or wanted for tax evasion so we weren’t concerned. Except, I waited way too long.
In my defense – the plans surrounding this trip were sketchy the entire time. Those who’ve attended destination weddings may understand what I’m saying. The prices, location and even dates themselves changed quite a few times. Add to that, details were being passed from the groom to my guy and then to me and it was like a game of telephone. Details were lost, and guys aren’t great at getting details in the first place!
So with the details not being in place….I waited. Until May. And my trip was scheduled for July. Yikes!
I knew I was cutting it close but I figured, okay according to the government website for a few extra dollars, I could expedite the service and receive it by the end of June at the latest. Cool. Well…then I had to call a passport office for an appointment and was informed the first available date wasn’t until June!
First tip: Most cities have multiple offices that process passport applications.
If one office doesn’t have an appointment quickly, call others for an earlier date. Also ask if they know of a location that accepts walk-ins (and search online). I didn’t know this so I accepted the appointment for June but even with expedition, I was nervous I wouldn’t receive my passport in time. To the web I went and came across a site called RushMyPassport.com.
Well, tickle my feather and color me shocked! They claimed their service could have your passport back to you in as little as 24 hours (for a whole lot of money, but still!). I was skeptical, but with the trip six weeks away, I didn’t have a choice but to say a prayer and hope they were legit. I did call and speak to a real live person in depth before paying and they were able to ease my fears a bit. Here’s the deal.
RushMyPassport.com is a convenient site that walks you through steps needed to rush your passport application. Luckily, I remembered seeing something about using a courier service on a government website, so I knew the process was somewhat legit before I even tried them.
RushMyPassport.com works with a number of courier services all over the country and included in their price is overnight shipping via UPS. So, you still MUST see a passport agent in person with your application, qualifying identification and the appropriate funds payable to the Department of State – that part doesn’t change. But, after approval instead of the passport agent mailing your documents to Washington DC, you ship the sealed envelope overnight via UPS (shipping labels and costs included in the Rush My Passport fee) to the directed courier. That is how your application is rushed through so quickly.
I only paid an additional $99 to receive my passport within 10-12 days. They kept their promise and I had my passport in plenty of time for my trip. So, I have nothing negative to say about RushMyPassport.com because without their explicit instructions, I’d most likely have not received my passport in time for my trip!
However, now that I’ve been through the process, you can actually complete this process for much less. They aren’t the only expedited passport courier services but they may be the largest, and consequently the most expensive.
For example, Rush My Passport charges $249 for 3-5 day processing where as Visa Express charges $179 for the same time frame. You may or may not be sacrificing availability of customer service or extremely clear instructions. Rush My Passport provides a checklist of documents needed while other passport couriers appear to be much more do-it-yourself oriented.
First time applicants like myself may feel more comfortable with the larger company and flashier website (marketing at its best) but they both do the exact same thing.
Now, what do you need to rush your passport?
- An electronic DS-11 passport application form. Click here to find the form. You cannot print a blank one then write inside. It must be filled out electronically and contain a bar code on the paper.
- Two passport photos. Most passport offices do not take passport photos. Go to Walgreens or CVS. Please note that you cannot smile with teeth, both of your ears should show to avoid rejection, and make sure your entire head is in the frame. Check the guidelines of passport photos before you go because depending on the experience of the worker, they may do it incorrectly. You’re already trying to rush your passport, you can’t risk further delays.
- Proof of Citizenship. An original birth certificate with a raised seal is best. Copies are not accepted. Of course if you are a citizen by other means then birth, then bring those original documents.
- Government Issued Identification. License or state issued I.D. Most passport offices will not accept copies, although you should already have copies with your DS-11 application.
- Payment. The U.S. Department of State only accepts checks or money orders. This will be mailed with your application and you cannot pay this with a debit or credit card. Completely spell out the name “Department” do not abbreviate. Then you will have to pay the passport office a separate processing fee. Payment acceptance varies by office. Take at least $60 extra with you in cash to be on the safe side. Nobody turns down cash and most fees are about $45.
- Itinerary. Now, here’s where it gets a little tricky. RushMyPassport says your travel must be within two weeks of your application. Most people, myself included, aren’t that last minute! So, they advise you to use sites like Expedia or Priceline to recreate your exact trip with a date within two weeks. You don’t have to pay for it, just print the itinerary summary out and provide it along with your application. For example, if applying on May 1 and your trip isn’t until June 1, recreate your trip on Expedia with a departure date of May 10.
- Courier Service. I used RushMyPassport.com and had zero issues. They provide tracking information with automated calls to let you know when your package has been received and shipped back to you. My birth certificate was returned in pristine condition.
Take all of these documents with you and hand them to the passport agent. He or she will make you swear under oath that you are who you say you are then examines and signs the documents.
They may ask if you are using a third-party courier, which is fine, they are after all experts at their job and you aren’t the first person to apply this way. It was actually comforting for me to know my agent was familiar with the process. She will return the documents to you in a signed, sealed envelope.
You will then take the sealed envelope – DO NOT OPEN – to UPS or FedEx (whichever your courier requests) for overnight shipping to your courier. They will provide any additional forms needed along with the address when you pay for their service.
Make sure you save your DS-11 application to your computer until the process is complete and track your package to make sure it was delivered to the courier.
I really hope you found this information helpful! I was all over the net, trying to see if these companies were legit and reading so many reviews – both good and bad. I was skeptical but also didn’t want to take the chance of not getting it and I’m glad I did. I received my passport 2-3 weeks before my trip!