24-Hour Passport

The State Department’s passport web page gives the time frames for getting a new passport:

    6-8 Weeks
    Expedited 2-3 Weeks
    Expedited at Agency 8 Business Days

But what if you have only two business days before your departure? I was afraid we might need to pay $400 to a sketchy passport expediting service! I think I was justified in being concerned, but in fact — at the Boston office anyway — it was no problem.

We had to show proof of travel within the next two weeks (or need for a visa within the next four weeks), and pay the $60 expedited fee in addition to the base fee of $135. But otherwise the process was extremely smooth. We filled out and printed the application using an online tool, then called for an appointment to submit the application at the Boston regional office. After building security and a preliminary review we waited in a short line. The completeness of our application got a thorough check by a second clerk, then we got a number. Along with dozens of other last-minute travelers we waited in rows of seats for our number to be called. We then went to one of five or six windows, where a third clerk closely reviewed our paperwork, took payment, and told us that the passport would be available between 4 and 4:30 pm the following day, or any time during business hours on the last day before our departure. Pickup was just as efficent: pretty much the same few dozen people stood in line, got numbers, then received their brand new passports. Government working exactly as it should!

In our case the passport in question had expired, so obviously needed to be replaced. Seasoned travelers will know about another “gotcha” issue: even if your passport is valid many countries will not admit you unless the expiration date is at least six months after the arrival date. This is to minimize the risk that your passport will expire while you are visiting, leaving you stranded.  

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