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How to Order a Passport at the Last Minute

Realizing that you’ve waited too long to apply for a passport is like being stuck in a bad dream. Terror and chagrin slowly mount as you realize the magnitude of your error. Unfortunately, since it’s not a dream, you can’t wake up.

Good news: there’s no need to panic!

Yes, the passport application process usually takes weeks, but there are ways to order a passport at the last minute.

Using a Passport Agency

One way to get a passport quickly is to apply at a regional passport agency office. These agencies are operated by the Department of State and issue passports on site. Processing time varies depending on which agency you go to. However, they will generally get your passport to you within 24 hours to 5 business days, depending on when your departure date is.

Now, here’s the catch: you can’t just walk in to a regional passport agency whenever you feel like it. These offices are open by appointment only, and they have limited operating hours as well. Much like a doctor’s office, just getting an appointment doesn’t mean that you’ll be seen at that time. You still have to take a number and wait in line.

Also, there are only 24 passport agencies to serve the entire country. That means you might not even have one in your state, so you’ll have to budget travel time and expenses in as well as time off work.

How to Get an Appointment

To use a passport agency, just call the National Passport Information Center to find the nearest location and make an appointment. To qualify for an appointment at most passport agencies, you must have a confirmed travel itinerary that takes you out of the country within the next 14 days. If you also need to get a visa for your destination, you become eligible for a passport agency appointment within 4 weeks of your departure date.

Be on time… if you’re more than 15 minutes late to your appointment you’ll have to make another one. Bring all of the documents you’d normally need to apply for your passport or passport renewal as well as a copy of your itinerary to prove your eligibility.

Using a Private Expediting Company

Private expediting companies like RushMyPassport give you the same fast service you’d get at a passport agency office without all the hassle. Yes, it costs money, but using an expediter has the following advantages:

  • Less hassle: They deal with the State Department for you, so there’s no need for you to make an appointment or wait in line.
  • No need to take time off work or spend gas money to get to a passport agency.
  • When you use RushMyPassport, you get the benefit of an experienced guide to walk you through the application process and a handy, easy-to-follow checklist showing all of the documents you need.
  • Applying for a passport can be a confusing process, but using an expediting company simplifies the procedure and reduces the chance of mistakes.

If you are applying for your first passport or are otherwise required to turn in your application in person, you can still use an expediting company. You’ll just go in to a post office or other passport acceptance facility with your new passport photo and all of the necessary paperwork, and have your documents “sealed” by the passport acceptance agent. Then, you send them in to the expediting company, and the company will hand-deliver them to the Department of State for priority processing, often in as little as 24 hours.

Need to order a passport at the last minute? Contact us today!

Image credits:AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by chris.corwin, Attribution Some rights reserved by kalleboo

Submit Your Passport Application Without an Appointment

If you need a passport and you’re having trouble finding the time to turn your passport application in, mark your calendar for Saturday, March 10. That’s when the Department of State will be holding the 4th annual “Passport Day in the USA” to encourage busy Americans to apply for passports.

What is Passport Day? If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the 24 cities that boast a regional passport agency office, it’s the only day each year when you can just waltz in and submit your passport application without making an appointment. It’s also the only day the office is open on weekends.

Even if you’re not located near a regional passport agency, many local passport acceptance facilities (like post offices, libraries and municipal buildings) are participating in the celebration as well. These offices may not require an appointment to submit your passport application (though some do), but they often have extremely limited or no weekend hours. On March 10, they’ll be open to accept passport applications on Saturday afternoon, which is much more convenient for people who work during the day. To find the nearest acceptance facility that’s participating in Passport Day, visit the Department of State website. (more…)

Can I Track My Passport Application?

It’s completely normal to feel just a wee bit nervous after you drop your passport application in the mail, especially if you’re on a deadline. After all, not only do you need your passport for travel, the application packet also contains important personal documents like your birth certificate.

Being able to track your passport application provides peace of mind while you wait for your new passport to arrive at your doorstep. The Department of State provides the ability to track applications via its website using the following steps:

  • Go to the passport section of the State Department website.
  • Select “Application Status” from the menu on the left side of the screen.
  • Click on the “Check Application Status” link.
  • Read the relevant privacy disclosures and hit “OK.”
  • Look up your application using your last name (including hyphens and suffixes when appropriate), your date of birth and the last four digits of your social security number. (more…)

University of Rhode Island Offers Passport Application Help

University of Rhode Island students had chance to get some help with their passport applications last week, thanks to a unique event held by the University’s International Office.

During the event, the International Office gave away 50 free passports, covering the application fees for those students lucky enough to be able to snag one. In addition, the office helped 30 more students with the passport application paperwork.

In the university’s student newspaper, University of Rhode Island Student Abroad and National Student Exchange Advisor Kendrick Delaney explained that the event had two main goals: helping students get a passport who might not otherwise be able to afford it, and increasing awareness of the passport office among the student body. Mr. Delaney, who has lived in the Caribbean, said,

“I’m living in a foreign country, and I want to help students get that experience. We believe that every student deserves to have a passport. Giving students passports is really giving them a key to open their world. Hopefully we can get more funding to continue this program…We want people to know what we do, find where we are, and who we serve. We do incoming, international and national student exchange. We inform students about our programs and scholarships.”

It’s amazing how getting a passport opens your eyes to the possibility of travel, even if you haven’t decided on a destination yet. Student Sara Klempe, lured in by the offer of a free passport, told the newspaper:

“I don’t really know where I’d want to go yet. But, I figured that not a lot of people had heard about it and if it’s free I thought, ‘why not?’”

Why not, indeed? Submitting a passport application is not cheap- it costs $135 to apply for a new one, a fee those 50 lucky students didn’t have to worry about. However, despite the initial upfront investment, a passport gives good long-term value as it’s valid for 10 years. $1.35 per year isn’t that bad for a document that makes the entire world your oyster, is it?

If you need a passport, be sure to apply well in advance of your expected travel dates, as regular processing can take six weeks or more. Expedited processing is available from the State Department for an additional $60 fee, but still takes about three weeks.

For faster service, you must either make an appointment at a regional passport agency office or use a private expediting company like RushMyPassport. Of the two options, an expediting company is definitely more convenient, as there’s no need to make an appointment or travel any further than your local post office.

Let us help you expedite your passport application today!

 

Turn In Your Passport Application To Win a Free Trip to Chile

Do you love wine and travel? If so, here’s a travel contest that’s tailor-made for you: The Wines of Chile Experience. (Via Gadling.)

If you win, you’ll get two free flights to Chile (one for you, one for a guest), as well as five nights of accommodations at a boutique hotel or winery, food and drink, activities and transportation within Chile. The total value of the prize package is “not to exceed $15,000,” so there should be enough of a budget for you to really enjoy yourself!

To enter, you’ll need to visit the “Wines of Chile” Facebook page. The page lists 5 themes: For the Love of Chile; Wine and Stars; Horses and Huasos; Harvest Holiday and Urban Wine Retreat. Upload 5 of your own original photographs, one for each theme. The deadline is November 4th, and on November 5th, the company will select 5 finalists. The finalist whose photos get the most votes from other fans, wins.

If you win, you’ll need to be ready to travel between January 1st and April 30th, 2012. One big step will be turning in your passport application. Don’t wait until the last minute to do this; it takes at least six weeks to process a unexpedited application. With the Department of State’s expedited service, you’ll pay an additional $60 fee but your passport application will still take three weeks to process. The Contest Rules note that

“The Winning Participant and his/her travel companion are responsible for obtaining all necessary documentation (including, but not limited to, valid passport, photo ID, visas, etc.) prior to travel.”

So, if you procrastinate, you might miss out on the trip of a lifetime.

If you are about to leave the country and need to have your passport application processed quickly, don’t despair. You can either travel to one of 24 regional passport agency offices, or use a private expediting company like RushMyPassport. We’ll personally bring your application to the Department of State, so it gets processed in as little as 24 hours!

Put your passport application on the top of the stack- Contact us today!

Get Your Passport Application: Passport Day is This Weekend!

Been meaning to turn in that passport application? Life does get hectic, and it’s easy to just keep putting chores like that off. However, you shouldn’t wait until the last minute to apply for a passport. It’s just a bad idea. Now, thanks to the Department of State’s annual Passport Day in the USA holiday, you don’t have to.

This event has been held for the past three years, and it gives people who don’t have a lot of time during the week a chance to submit their passport applications at a more convenient time. During Passport Day, all twenty four of the Department of State’s Regional Passport Agency offices are open on Saturday, with no appointment required. Many local passport acceptance facilities like post offices, libraries and clerks of court are open for the day, as well. Usually, Regional Passport Agency offices are only open for limited hours on weekdays, and you need an appointment to get it.

If you just got back from a summer vacation that took you out of the country, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of “Oh well, better late than never!” Why didn’t they hold Passport Day before the summer vacation rush?

As Bob Sullivan, customer service manager for National Passport Center, explained to MLive.com, it wasn’t a matter of choice:

“Our initial event was on April 9 but we rescheduled due to the possible federal government shutdown. Now is a good time because students who are studying abroad or travelers planning to go to the Olympics in London or on winter vacations can get them done.”

To find a participating office, click here to visit the Department of State’s website.

To help reduce lines and waiting times, the Department of State requests that you go online and print off the relevant forms, then fill them out ahead of time. Of course, you should also gather up all relevant documents. For more information, see:

How to Apply for a New Passport

How to Replace a Lost Passport

Passport Renewal: Cutting Through the Red Tape

Also, bear in mind that the only services available during Passport Day are regular service, which takes about six weeks, and standard expedited service, which takes two to three weeks. For faster service, you have to apply during the week at one of the Regional Passport Agency offices, and you’ll need an appointment. Or, get your passport application expedited with RushMyPassport for processing in as little as 24 hours!

Want to Visit Cuba Legally? Get Your Passport Application Now!

If you’ve always wanted to visit Cuba without breaking the law, you’d better get your passport application in now. Under President Obama, the US Treasury Department has begun to issue “people-to-people” licenses to travel companies, allowing them to take ordinary Americans on guided tours of the island.

According to the New York Times, the government has been taking its sweet time when it comes to issuing the licenses, but nevertheless, eight tour operators have already been given the go-ahead.

Tom Popper, the director of Insight Cuba, one of the travel companies to receive a coveted permit, explained to the New York Times how easy the new permits make it for Americans to visit Cuba: ““All a U.S. citizen has to do is sign up for an authorized program and they can go to Cuba. It’s as simple as that.”

Well, maybe not quite “as simple as that.” At the moment, demand for the tours are quickly outpacing the supply, especially considering how slowly the government is granting licenses to the operators who run them. As Mr. Popper explained to the Times, ““It’s the forbidden fruit. It’s 50 years of pent-up demand for a country that 75 percent of Americans really, really want to travel to.”

Plus, the availability of the people-to-people permits is subject to the prevailing political winds. Between 2000 and 2003, they were available under President Bill Clinton. However, after George W. Bush was elected, the government stopped issuing them completely. (more…)

New York Representatives Try to Reduce Passport Application Costs

Getting a passport has never been more essential for anyone who wants to travel outside of the US. Laws that became effective over the past few years have made passports necessary where they weren’t before, including many trips to Mexico and Canada. Unfortunately, passport application fees have also never been more expensive. Last July, passport prices increased and fees were added for formerly free services like adding passport pages.

Now, two New York congressional representatives, concerned that more stringent passport requirements and higher costs could keep their constituents from being able to cross over freely into Canada, have introduced a bill to help ease the burden of getting a passport.

Representatives Brian Higgins and Kathy Hochul are co-sponsoring two bills which, if passed, would reimburse you for most of the cost of getting a passport and would also restrict what the government can charge for them.

According to YNN.com, the Passport Fee Relief Act would allow passport holders to claim a tax credit equal to the cost of the passport application fee after applying for a new passport or a passport renewal. The second bill, the Passport Acquisition Savings and Security (PASS) Act, would ensure that passport application fees are limited to what it actually costs the government to issue your passport.

The passport application fee varies depending on whether you’re applying for an adult passport, a child passport or a passport card. For example, an adult applying for a passport book and a passport card would pay an application fee of $140. If you are applying in person, there is also a $25 execution fee that goes to the office that takes your application. Under Higgins’ and Hochul’s proposal, this fee would not be reimbursable.

Representative Hochul told WKBW.com that she was inspired to co-sponsor the bill based on her time as a county clerk:

“As a former Erie County Clerk I am very aware of the high costs associated with obtaining passports. I helped process thousands of passports that cost Western New Yorkers upwards of $100 each. These prices are far too high for residents who travel across the border day after day for work and pleasure. We need to save Western New Yorkers every penny we can and these two bills will help bear much of the costs associated with obtaining a passport.”

What do you think of these bills? If they passed, would you be more likely to submit a passport application and get a passport?

 

Get Your Passport Application in Now for the Dominican Republic

Aarrr, me hearties! If the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie has you craving a taste of the pirate’s life, you need to book tickets to the Dominican Republic this summer. A few years ago, divers exploring the reefs off Catalina island stumbled upon the skeletal remains of Quedagh Merchant, a ship last captained by a real pirate of the Caribbean, Captain Kidd.

The ship, laden with treasure, was captured by Kidd and his crew off the coast of India in 1698. It was one of Captain Kidd’s only successful plunders- he was technically a privateer, or a pirate employed by the British Navy to capture other pirates and prey on the ships of rival navies. So, he didn’t attack every ship he came across. This enraged his crew, which was far less concerned with staying on the good side of the Royal Navy.

Unfortunately, even the Quedagh Merchant was not technically legal prey – although it flew under a French flag, the captain was an Englishman. With a price on his head, Captain Kidd left the boat in the Caribbean with his “trusted” crew, and sailed to New York to try to clear his name.

Of course, as soon as his ship passed the horizon, his crew took the opportunity to sink the Quedagh Merchant and make off with the treasure. Pirates, right? What can you do?

In New York, Kidd was arrested and taken to England, where he was convicted of piracy and hung. His decaying body was placed in a gibbet over the Thames, where it remained for the next 20 years as a warning to others.

What of the Quedagh Merchant? Discovered in 2007, it was dedicated this month as an underwater museum and nature preserve. According to Science Daily, it is expected to become quite popular:

“As the interest in eco-tourism and unique vacation destinations continues to grow, this Living Museum of the Sea is predicted to be a sought-after destination for those seeking underwater adventures combined with significant 17th century maritime history representative of the Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean.” (more…)

How to Get a Child Passport

All children, no matter how young, need a passport of their own to leave the country by air and in some cases by land and sea.

The procedure for getting a child passport is somewhat different from the procedure for getting an adult passport. Concerns about children being abducted and taken overseas have prompted the Department of State to build safeguards against this practice into the passport application process for minors. Here’s what you need to know to make the process go as smoothly as possible:

Applying in Person

All children must apply for their passports in person, even if the child has been issued a passport previously and you wish to renew it. In most cases, you can simply apply at the nearest passport acceptance office, often a post office or library.

Even though you do have to appear at an acceptance office in person, an expediting company like RushMyPassport can still help you get your child’s passport more quickly. The acceptance office will “seal” your documents, then you send them to the expediting company to be processed in as little as 24 hours. Compare that to the Department of State’s typical processing time of 2 to 3 weeks for their expedited service, and the advantage is clear!

Also, the Department of State won’t issue a passport for a child under the age of 16 without the consent of both parents. To meet this requirement, both parents must appear in person at the passport office with the child. If both parents can’t be there, you can provide the appropriate document from the list below to demonstrate that the other parent consents to the passport being issued or to show why consent is not needed. (more…)