While I’m slightly embarrassed to disclose this, until two weeks from now, I will have never left North America, and therefore, have never had the need for a passport. There was a time in college where I had plans to do a semester abroad in Spain (constantly regretting the decision not to) that I did obtain a passport, but that was over five years ago and who knows where that passport has gone ever since.
Here I am today, less than two weeks until I leave for London, without a passport. Should I be worried? Probably. Am I? Not at all! For those like me that make super sporadic travel plans for the first time, the Department of State has us covered to get last minute, rush passports in a pinch. While they do come at an additional fee, it is actually possible to get a passport same day depending on your travel plans.
The US Passports & International Travel website provides this chart below with the best method for obtaining a passport based on your travel timeline.
Many of these forms are available online as fillable PDF’s that can be completed on your computer and printed out, ready to go. If you’re traveling with plenty of time to spare, kudos to you for being on top of your travel game. You can fill out your DS-11 and bring it to an acceptance facility or apply by mail as well. If you are traveling within two weeks, here is your step-by-step guide to obtaining a last minute passport!
- Confirm that you are indeed traveling within two weeks. I know this may sound silly, but there are stories and reviews a plenty out there of people who went to a passport agency even 15 or 16 days before their travel date, and were denied service.
- Locate your nearest passport agency and attempt to make an appointment online or by phone. Depending on where you live, there may not be any appointments available, but don’t stress out! The Department of State sends out appointment reminders 24 hours before any appointments, and often people cancel or reschedule. That being said, if you can’t get an appointment when you first check, continue to check up until 24 hours before you want to go as well.
- If you are unable obtain an appointment, lookup reviews for your nearest last minute passport agency on Yelp or Google. Most of these reviews are from travelers like ourselves and will give you a good idea of what time you need to arrive in the morning for same-day appointment to beat the rush and increase your odds of being seen without waiting for hours and hours. In NYC, that means arriving at 5am for an office that opens its doors at 7.30am
- Once you have an appointment or know when you’re going to venture out bright and early, it’s time to compile your documents. All documents require an original and two copies (although I recommend three just to be safe.) You will need to provide:
- Once you have all your documents and appropriate copies assembled, the final step before you can step foot into the Passport Agency is to obtain a passport photo. These can be done at most drug stores such as CVS or Walgreens, but you can find a place near you with a simple Google Search. Just as a I recommend extra copies of your documents, it’s not a bad idea to get two copies of your passport photos just in case. They usually run no more than $10 depending on where you live.
- Different passport agencies accept different forms of payment, so depending on your individual office and whether they accept debit/credit cards you may need to prepare a check / money order / cashier’s check in advance to Department Of State. The fees are outlined below.
Now you are all set to head into your local Passport Agency. Remember kindness counts and the nicer you are to the employees in the office, the better your experience will be! Unfortunately, they are in a position of power and it is in your best interest to be on their good side. After you get your passport, I recommend purchasing a passport holder to protect your document while traveling, especially one with RFID capabilities
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or tips!