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urgent travel passport

How to Get A Last-Minute Passport: Urgent Travel & Same-Day Passport Service

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It's every traveler's worst nightmare: You're in a rush getting ready for a big international trip, pulling out your passport … only to find it's expired – or will soon. Trust me, it can be a simple and relatively easy to take care of through the Urgent Travel Passport Service.

With our honeymoon just a month or so away, my wife and I panicked as we realized her passport would expire within a few months of our trip to Tanzania and Kenya – two countries that, like many, require at least six months of passport validity for an entry visa. If you search for “last-minute passport” in a rush like I did, you'll see far too many third-party companies offering to shepherd you through the process for exorbitant fees of up to $800. Don't bite in an emergency! You can still get your passports easier working on your own.

So long as you live near a U.S. passport agency location (or can make a quick trip there), you can work straight through the government's own Urgent Travel Service, which is meant for instances when your international travel is too close for traditional expedited passport service but you don't have a life-or-death emergency that requires a last-minute passport.

After about 90 minutes of work and $190 total, my wife's new passport was ready – and our honeymoon went off without a hitch. Here's how to get a last-minute passport.
 

last minute passports
 

 

How Fast Do You Need a Passport?

How far away you are from your date of travel is the most important factor in what kind of renewal you need for your U.S. passport – and whether you might need an urgent travel passport or even a last-minute passport.

If you need to travel tomorrow, you'll need an emergency or urgent travel appointment. If you aren't flying another two months, a routine passport renewal will do (and you can soon renew your passport online, too!)

Here are the types of passport renewals:

 

Emergency Passport Renewal

Emergency passport renewals are for travelers who have life-or-death emergencies that requires international travel within 72 hours, according to the state department.

There are limited appointments set aside for this service at every passport agency, and you must call to make an emergency appointment like you do for Urgent Travel Service. To qualify for this passport expedition, you need to prove a qualifying life-or-death emergency and prove you have upcoming travel.

The cost is $60, plus the standard $130 cost of your passport book.

 

Urgent Travel Passport

Urgent Travel Passport Service is the route we took, and you don't need a good excuse to take advantage of the service. Our excuse: I'm a bonehead and forgot to check our passports while planning our honeymoon…

According to the State Department, you can use this service if you have international travel plans within 14 days. 
 

Urgent Travel Passport  

Travelers must schedule an appointment with an agency by phone and provide proof of travel with 14 days. Importantly, you can also use the Urgent Travel Passport Service within 21 days of travel if the country you are traveling to requires a visa. That is what we did for our trip to Tanzania and Kenya, as both required visas for American travelers.

The cost is $60 plus the $130 cost of your passport book.

 

Expedited Passport Renewal

Expedited passport renewal is for travel within three to five weeks.

Notably, the state department says processing times begin as soon as your application arrives – not the day you mail your application. For this reason, it's important to do the expedited passport application online. More on that later.

The expedited passport service can be done at an acceptance facility or by mail. The cost, again, is $60 plus the $130 cost of renewing your passport.

 

Normal Passport Renewal

If your travel is more than six weeks away, you may want to use the traditional passport renewal service. No need to rush.

The state department says routine passport renewal takes six to nine weeks to process. It can also be done by mail, at an acceptance facility, or soon, online.

Read more: With Delays of 3+ Months, Passport Wait Times are Getting Even Worse

 

How to Make an Urgent Travel Passport Appointment

So let's say you're traveling soon and need to use the Urgent Travel Passport Service. How do you go about getting an appointment?

The first thing you need to do is call the national passport agency phone number … but the timing of your call is important.

The agencies will only make you an emergency appointment if you call within 14 days (or 21 days, if you need a visa to enter the country you're visiting) of travel. If your trip is 15 days away, you may not be able to make an appointment.

The phone number for the U.S. Passport Agency is 1-877-487-2778. I'd recommend calling right away in the morning like we did to make sure you get your desired appointment time.

It's important to note that the person who is requesting the passport must be the one who calls and shows up for their appointment. This is a way to ensure that third-party services cannot book up all the appointments from people who need them.

 

Passport Agency Locations in the U.S.

There are 26 different passport agencies throughout the United States. All of them are located in major U.S. cities, which means you might need to travel to one if you aren't located nearby.
 

Last Minute Passport Centers Map
Map of passport agency offices, courtesy of State Department

For our Urgent Travel Passport Service, we used the Minneapolis location. Here is a list of the Passport Agency locations in the United States:

  • Little Rock, Arkansas (Hot Springs)
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Buffalo, New York
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Denver, Colorado (Cherry Creek)
  • Stamford, Connecticut
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • El Paso, Texas
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Houston, Texas
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Miami, Florida
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • New York, New York
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • San Diego, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Burlington, Vermont (St. Albans)
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Tuscon, Arizona

You can find the full list, with addresses, hours of operation, and phone numbers at the State Department website.

 

How to Prepare for Your Urgent Travel Passport Appointment

Once you call the passport office and make your appointment, you'll receive an email confirmation of the appointment. This will include the location of your appointment, the time, and any other building entry requirements there might be.
 

Urgent Travel Passport  

It will also include a detailed list of the things you need to bring to your appointment.

 

What to Bring to Your Urgent Passport Appointment

As is always the case with travel, more is more. Bring everything and anything you need to identify yourself or prove your travel to your appointment just in case because you'll be in a rush. But here is the absolute minimum.

 

A Completed Passport Application

The first thing you need to do after you hang up the phone to schedule your appointment is to fill out the passport application online. You don't have to do this part online, but it helps speed up the process and reduce any errors you might make while doing it by hand. Luckily, doing this online is really simple using the “form filler” tool.

You can find the U.S. Passport online application here and fill it out in a matter of minutes. You'll need to print it upon completion and bring it to your appointment.

If you are renewing your passport, you will need your old one to fill out the application.

 

Passport Photo

You will also need a new passport photo – even if you are just renewing your passport … and this is not as easy as it seems. There are some strict rules for what you can use for a passport photo, but the state department pretty clearly outlines them on their website here.

For instance, you cannot take your photo of yourself (no selfies), you cannot wear eyeglasses, you must have a plain white or off-white background, you cannot retouch or digitally alter the photo, and you have to have a “neutral” face expression.
 

Last Minute Passport Photo Tool  

You can use the state department's photo tool to see if your photo complies.

 

Passport Fees

Passport renewal fees are pretty reasonable and are the main reason why we decided to get my wife's passport urgently renewed on our own instead of using a service to do it.

In total, the Urgent Travel Passport Service will cost you at least $190. That includes the usual $130 passport book renewal fee plus another $60 for Urgent Travel service. If you need 1-2 day delivery on your passport if you applied through the mail, that will cost another $18.32.

If you're applying for a passport for the first time as an adult (16+), you must pay a $35 execution fee and then the $130 passport book fee.

If you renew your passport at a passport agency, like you would using the Urgent Travel Service, you can use credit cards, checks, money orders, or cash to complete the transaction, too.

 

Proof of International Travel

In order to be eligible for Urgent Travel Passport Service at your appointment, you need to prove that you're traveling within 14 days (or 21 days for countries that require visas). That means you need to print out your travel itinerary with your name on it and bring it to your appointment.
 

Airplane  

As always with travel, I would adhere to the “more is more” rule and bring your entire itinerary in case anyone at the agency has any questions.

 

Your Old Passport

If you are renewing your passport using the Urgent Travel Passport Service, you also need to bring your old passport to the appointment.

 

Name Change Documents (If Needed)

If you are changing your name on your passport, you need to bring all the requisite name change documents to the appointment as well.

 

Other Things for Travel

If you have an emergency passport appointment, you also have to bring your proof of “life-or-death emergency” to the appointment, along with your upcoming travel booking.

If you are getting an Urgent Travel passport for a child under 16, both of the child's parents have to be at the appointment.

Read more: How to Get a U.S. Passport for a Baby

 

How Long Does it Take to Get Your Last Minute Passport?

If you get an Urgent Travel Passport appointment, the agency will get you your passport before you travel, whenever that is. That's the beauty of these in-person appointments.

In our case, my wife had her appointment exactly 15 days before our trip. Her meeting was very quick and easy, and the passport center in Minneapolis said her book would be available for pickup the next day. When she arrived the next day, they told her to come back again the next morning after a snafu. She was there right when they opened the following day and picked up her shiny new passport booklet.

In total, it was about 36 hours from the passport appointment to when her new passport was ready for pickup. 

Make sure to take into account any time it will take to travel to and from the passport agency for both the appointment and the passport pickup when you're booking your Urgent Travel Passport appointment.

 

Bottom Line

I still wouldn't recommend waiting until a month before an international trip to check your passports. But if it happens to you, getting a last-minute U.S. passport doesn't have to be stressful or expensive – and you definitely shouldn't use an expensive third-party service to get it done for you. Just don't rush things too much.

After realizing that my wife's passport would expire too soon for us to get a visa for our honeymoon to Tanzania and Kenya, we were able to get an Urgent Travel Passport Service appointment and a brand new passport for her all in a matter of days. The entire ordeal cost $190.

 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

28 Responses

  • I used this service in 2013. I was able to pick up my new passport the same day. Unfortunately, I need to use it again. I’m wondering if I can still do a same day pickup. We’ll see. Nice article.

    • How did it go? My trip is 3 weeks out by cruise and I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for my online renewal to be accepted (submitted on 1/26, received 2/3, in process on 2/6, expedited service and delivery). The cruise departs on 3/11 but I leave home on 3/10. Which day counts for the 14 days out? I wonder if I would have to pay the whole urgent travel fee on top of what I already paid…

      • Summited mine on 1/5/23 expedited process/shipping 3-5 weeks received a notification today 2/17/23 almost 5 weeks later that my photo had a shadow and needed to be resubmitted, I travel 3/13/23, they told me after resubmitting photo that if I don’t receive it on march 6th I then can use the urgent service to get a same day passport at the closest agency which is 4 hours away. The online service has been a nightmare.

          • When we originally applied we didn’t use the expedited services(we should have). I called today for an urgent passport service and they just charged me the $60 I would have paid for the expedited services. They said if you paid for expedited then you wouldn’t be charged again.

      • Hey. You don’t need a passport to go on a cruise. State issued ID and birth certificate will do

    • Thanks for this advice. We are traveling to Greece and did not realize our daughter’s passport needed to be good beyond our stay in Greece (in fact, they require a passport that will remain valid for no less than 6 months time!) Your article helped us calm down and figure out what we need to do.

  • Real good information. Thank You.

    If you need a VISA for a foreign country, you now can apply 28 days in advance.

    Thank you
    Thomas Johansson

  • My kids renewed their passports on February 7 and one of them you can’t even get a status report on. The other says it was received on March 4 – almost a month later! The site says once received THEN it can take up to 11 weeks. I thought with more than 3 months to go that I’d be fine. Now I’m nervous I’ll need to take them to the closest US Passport Office (5 hours!) and I’d have to take them out of school to do that (one is in college so over 18) I read that you can get a notarized letter allowing me to present the application on someone else’s behalf. Does anyone know if that is true? I call the US Passport Office and it won’t take my call because I don’t have a locator number.

  • Informative article. But what if the passport agency in your state doesn’t answer the phone for an appointment? Miami, FL has a recording or a busy signal. Recording says to call back later and then disconnects. Called a hundred times with no luck. Any other way to make an appointment other than calling?

    • Calling is the only way to book an appointment. I had to try dozens of times before they were finally not too busy to take my call.

  • I travel in 9 days and cannot for the life of me get an appointment at the mpls center. I have called every day since Monday this week, sometimes more than once to check appointment availability and the closest one I can get is either in El Paso, TX or Seattle, WA. I applied on December 27, accepted at the facility 1/5, got a letter about 5 weeks later telling me that my photo was damaged and I needed to re-fill out the stolen passport form. Sent it back right away and it still says in process. I’m freaking out a bit and there is nothing I can seem to do about it!

  • Hi, I’ve been trying to make an appointment for an urgent passport but no one is answering that phone number! Any tips??

  • My husband I leave for vacation next Wed. March 22 at 9 am. The earliest Urgent Appointment they had was Tues. March 21st. Is it possible to leave the agency with a passport? It won’t possibly make it to us in time by mail even if its overnighted!! I’m freaking out!!

  • Same here. I applied December 27, got a note 2 months later saying my photo was bad. re-upped a new photo (after countless server errors from their end) and paid for expedited. No word and I’m leaving for Australia which requires Visas, on April 11. The phone number for a passport if you are travelling within 2 weeks is a joke. Busy signals, recorded messages saying they are too busy at that time, etc. Finally got through, told wait time was over 2 hours. I said what the heck I’ll play along. An hour in I was disconnected. The whole system is broken.

  • How strict are they about the travel itinerary? What exactly do you need to bring? And do you NEED to stay strictly to the schedule you provide them?

    • So expedited passports are now 5-9 weeks. Urgent travel you have to wait until 14 days before your flight call for an appointment. They require proof of travel. You can find a loophole in the system if you want to buy yourself some refundable tickets and peace of mind. The system sucks! So many stressed people waiting at the office not sure if they will make their flight… I called “14 days prior” and got my appointment which was 13 days later or “one day prior to the flight”. Showed my proof of flight. I walked out the same day of my appointment passport in hand. Don’t stress when you don’t get through on the first dozen or so calls just keep trying and eventually you’ll get through.

      • How strict are they with itinerary? I messed up and called a day early because we start travel 1 day prior to our international flight. So technically the day I made the appt is 15 days prior to international flight but we have to catch a connecting flight and land 11pm and then 2:43am for final destination. Does that make sense? Will they turn me away?

      • Can’t thank you enough for the loophole suggestion!!! Booked a flight to Cancun (two weeks before our actual cruise) through Southwest – made sure it was the last flight of the day, and a refundable fare instead of the Wanna Get Away rates. Had an 8am appointment in Dallas the same day as that flight. Our passports were approved by 9am, so was able cancel the flight for a full refund. Came back at 1:30 to pickup passports and didn’t have in hand until 4pm. Would have definitely missed the cruise if we used our actual travel itinerary.

  • I just realized that I forgot to make a passport after naturalization, and I have an international flight in two days. It is midnight, so I can’t call the passport agency right now. I’ll call them first thing in the morning tomorrow. I am freaking out and wondering if the Urgent Travel service will be able to get me a passport in time for my flight. Do you have any other recommendations on what else I could do?

    • Daisy, did you get passport at passport agency before your trip. How long it took to get passport at passport agency.

  • This article really helped to ease my anxiety! My situation: UK trip is booked; just four weeks away. My passport expired last week! SO I called the U.S. Dept. of State Passport line, at 5 AM my time. I waited on hold about 35 minutes, then talked to a very nice agent. Here’s what I learned: Their very first question is “When is your date of travel?” When I said my actual travel date four weeks from today, they could not give me an appointment. The agents have an appointment calendar with ONLY two weeks of openings, beginning on the day you call. SO I called again, waiting on hold about 35 minutes. I said my travel date was just under two weeks away. She gave me an appointment TWO DAYS before my (fictional) date of travel, and it was on a Friday. I took the appt, thinking I could book a refundable flight the night before, print out that itinerary to bring to my appt, then cancel the flight after my the appt. However, finding refundable flights is tricky, and I’d rather be honest and use my real dates of travel. SO Plan B: call Dept. of State three weeks before the actual flight, and tell them a fictional travel date within that two week period. My impression is that the appointments are roughly 10 days out from the day you call. The phone agent does not need proof of travel, only your date of travel. It is the passport agency that needs a printed travel itinerary when you go in person to your appt. So if I can get an appt. that falls within two weeks of my actual flight, at least I can take care of renewing my passport with maybe a week to spare, instead of TWO days! NOTE: I looked into “Rush My Passport”, which is advertised on both FedEx and AAA websites. Then I looked at Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Reddit for reviews – 95% of reviews for Rush My Passport reported that is was an expensive total scam that did not work for them! Conclusion: If there is a U.S.State Dept.location close enough to you, go through them if time allows. Good Luck! I absolutely hate waiting two weeks to get this taken care of, but at least now I know that it is possible, and I can still go on my trip! I wrote this very long reply for those of you in my same position, and I hope it helps. 🙂

  • Our trip is a little less than one month away. Does anyone think it’s safer to apply ahead of time and have the application processing or should we wait until the 14 days and then call for an appointment? The travel.state.gov website says that if you can pre-apply and then call within the 14 day window.

    “Call 1-877-487-2778. We will notify the agency processing your application of your date of travel and request that your passport is processed in time”

    Or if you have not applied, you call within 14 days and”You must have an appointment to go in person to a passport agency or center. Appointments are limited and we cannot guarantee that one will be available.”

  • I travel in 6 days and when I called to make an appointment, they told me that almost all the agencies are booked and there are no available appointments. Is there anything I can do?? How is literally everything booked?

  • Helpful article! Can you create an urgent passport appointment if your within 14 days for travel but you your passport is not expired yet?

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