There are few things more stressful than realizing that you need a passport fast. If you’re reading this, you probably are wondering how to get a passport within 24 hours – and I’m here to tell you: it’s absolutely possible!
Let’s set the scene: you have a trip planned for months, you plan out every detail down to restaurant reservations and museum tickets. You pre-pay to save money, and have a beautiful itinerary planned…
Then, boom! You’re met with a passport emergency. It’s every travelers worst nightmare!
Whether you discover your passport is expired, lost, damaged, stolen, or unusable in the country you’re visiting – it can be devastating!
In this post, you will learn the exact steps to getting a passport within 24 hours. Heck, within 8 hours! No, you don’t need to pay an expensive agency or cancel your trip. Read this post and you can breathe a sigh of relief as you embark on your vacation as planned.
Table of contents
- How I Got My Passport in 4 Hours
- How to Get a Passport Fast
- Hiring a Courier Service
- Passport Center for a Fast Passport
- Where is the closest passport center?
- What documents do you need to get a passport fast?
- What to expect at the passport center?
How I Got My Passport in 4 Hours
It was a very stressful afternoon upon realizing: the passport I had in hand would not serve its purpose for the country I was traveling to.
My passport had been stolen earlier in the year, and I was using a 1-year emergency passport.
I knew I would be traveling within a short timeframe of receiving it, so I figured I’d renew it after my next trip overseas.
Well, I found out about 6 hours before I planned to leave for France that the country does not recognize the 12 page emergency passport as a valid document. I was completely panicked!
I was to meet our retreat group abroad just 7 days from this realization, and my flight to Paris was scheduled for 24 hours from then.
I opted to take a red-eye flight to Houston, which would put me 3 hours from Dallas (my connecting flight).
When I arrived in Houston it was about 6 am, and I did NOT have an appointment at the passport center – I somehow just knew it was all going to work out.
I had pre-filled out all of my documents, gathered the necessary papers and photos, and went directly to the passport center. While in line, I continued to call the passport phone number to obtain an appointment, and finally after multiple calls – they were able to get me in!
I headed upstairs, dropped off my paperwork, and paid $60. Just 4 short hours later, I had my new passport in hand.
Nothing short of a miracle, but I am here to tell you – it’s possible!
How to Get a Passport Fast
It’s an international traveler’s worst nightmare: passport problems. If you find yourself in this predicament- you’re not alone and first of all let me assure you, it’s all going to be okay.
There are two routes you can go to expedite your passport as fast as possible:
- Hire a Courier Service (not recommended): This takes 5-7 business days and costs anywhere from $500-$1000. I will explain how these work in more detail further into this article.
- Head to the Nearest Passport Center (recommended): As fast as 4 hours. Keep your fingers crossed that you either can get an appointment -or- you can walk in. I will explain these steps in more detail below.
Hiring a Courier Service
A courier service is essentially a concierge service for obtaining a passport quickly. Think of it like the fast pass in disneyland.
This is an expensive service completed by many different agencies who are authorized to file passport papers on other’s behalf. You can absolutely go this route, but keep in mind this will typically take 3-5 business days minimum.
Wondering “How do express passport courier services work?”
Essentially, these companies gather all of your information, documents, and fees on your behalf. They then package it all up with a ribbon and a bow and take it directly to the nearest passport center. This allows you to skip the line, and avoid waiting in line at the passport centers.
This is best for those who have 10-14 days before their travel is to commence. It is an excellent option if you have a little bit of leeway and aren’t able to physically make it to a passport center.
The agency will work with you to ensure all of your documents are correct and that you are following the proper protocol.
You have the option of mailing (generally overnight) your documents, or bringing the documents to an office. There are many different services that provide this. If you are able to bring your documents to their office, this will save you a day or two in getting your passport.
How long does it take to get your passport using a courier service? Some service promise 3 days, but realistically you’re looking at 5-7 days, especially post pandemic.
Passport Center for a Fast Passport
The recommended route for getting your passport as fast as possible (like within 4 hours)!
Alternatively, you can opt to be your own courier: gathering your documents, fees, and information on your own behalf and take it yourself to the passport center.
Well, the kicker is that you need an appointment to enter the building…and finding a last minute appointment is rare.
Notice I said rare, and not impossible. This is exactly how I got my passport within 4 hours (read below).
How to get an emergency passport appointment:
Just keep calling.
Chances are, when you MOST need an appointment – you will be hard pressed to find one, especially in the city closest to you.
However, more than likely, an appointment will open up, you just have to keep calling.
Tip: When you call, they will ask you when your travel plans are. Once you tell them a date, they will not be able to alter it. Priority is given to those traveling within the next few days.
I do not condone lying, but a small fib should be excused in this situation. Even if your flight is within 24 hours, I suggest sharing a 72 hour window to try to find an appointment – this gives you some wiggle room to be able to change your flight in the case that you *can* get an appointment.
When you first call, they will probably not have an appointment, but if you continue to call, you may be able to snag one within 24 hours – and this will be your golden ticket to getting a passport fast!
You can also try to walk in, but this is getting harder and harder to do without a life or death situation. You will have a much easier time if you have an appointment.
Where is the closest passport center?
What documents do you need to get a passport fast?
Passport Renewal Requirements:
- DS82 Application for Passport Renewal: It is best to complete online and print the application. Handwritten applications are only accepted in black ink and can be questioned. Pre-fill out this form, print it, and bring it to your appointment. Do not sign this until you are in front of the passport agent.
- If you are not renewing your passport, but getting a brand new one, you will need to fill out an alternate form such as DS11. Be sure to ask the passport agent exactly which form YOU need when you schedule your appointment.
- 2, 2×2″ Passport Photos
- Current Passport Book: Even if expired.
- Alternate form of ID: An expired driver’s license will even work.
- Payment: Can be cash (exact change only), card, or check.
- Travel Itinerary: Absolutely necessary to get your passport as quickly as possible. Priority it given to those traveling within 24 hours. Even if you need to reschedule your flight, print out your original flight plan for expedited service.
What to expect at the passport center?
Arrive Early: You will need to go through security, which can take up to an hour prior to being let into the passport area.
Security: You are able to bring your cellphone, laptop, snacks, etc… but will be retired to go through a security checkpoint.
Parking: Be sure to pay for ample parking as you do not know how long it is going to take.
Obtaining Your Passport: When you arrive, they will check you in via your appointment confirmation number, and then check your documents. If there are any errors, you can iron them out before meeting with your passport agent. Once checked in, you will wait for your number to be called. Then, you will present your paperwork to the agent who will collect payment and gather all of your info. They will share with you when you can pick up your passport. Same day passports are generally picked up around 2 pm if you have a morning appointment.
If you follow these steps exactly you will be able to obtain an expedited passport in as little as 4 hours! While you may need to reschedule your flight, I hope that you are able to enjoy your vacation as planned with a new passport in hand!