There’s three months of summer break ahead and plenty of time to travel for fun and for education and to make some of that travel international. Maybe you’ve never had a passport before or maybe you have and it’s expired. Either way, now is the time to get that document on file, up to date, and in hand.
Getting Your Passport
Applying for a passport usually takes about 6-8 weeks from start to finish. If you have this time or more before you leave on your trip, you have nothing to worry about.
- Getting Your First Passport: You’ll need to apply in person at a local office or online. Many US Post Offices serve as these facilities and they can even take your regulation photo there.
- Renewing an Expired/Expiring Passport: If your document has expired or it will expire within three to six months (depending on where you’re going) of your departure date, you need to renew it. You can renew by mail or online at the U.S. Department of State website. The online application process is simple and will walk you through the steps, making sure you’re eligible for online application at every step of the way.
Getting It Fast
In a hurry because your trip departs in fewer than six weeks? No worries, but you will have to get an expedited renewal. You can get your passport expedited online or at a passport office for an extra charge. Online, you’ll pay an extra $60 fee for expedited service.
In a rush but have time to do a mail renewal? Cool. You can also expedite the process by paying for overnight mail delivery. You can send your renewal forms in via overnight delivery and have them sent back similarly fast. Paying for overnight delivery doesn’t expedite the processing of your renewal, but it does expedite the mailing speed.
Getting It Really Fast
If your departure is fewer than three weeks away, you’ll need to visit a passport center to get your document in enough time. Search online for the nearest office, collect the necessary paperwork, and find out if you need an appointment and you’ll be well on your way to getting your passport as quickly as possible. Provided that you arrive with all documentation and a passport photo, you may be able to get your new ID within the week or possibly even the same day for a renewal.
Should there not be a local office near where you live, you can also call the National Passport Information Center 24 hours a day for help. They can answer any question you might have about documentation and international travel.
There are companies that claim to expedite the process, but most of these companies are not trustworthy to follow through with their promises. On top of that, they charge outrageous prices for their services. Beware!
If you find yourself in a need of expedited procurement or renewal, the government offers many resources to help you. Be sure to stay calm, ask questions politely, and follow directions as closely as possible. You’ll be on your way overseas before you know it.
Remember that even if you don’t have travel on the horizon, a passport is an invaluable form of ID to possess.