Author Topic: Any tips on how to renew a passport quickly?  (Read 740 times)

littleturkey

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Any tips on how to renew a passport quickly?
« on: March 04, 2021, 08:55:46 PM »
I legitimately won a trip to Costa Rica!  I was to choose three dates and then the company would issue the trip for one of those, based on availability.  Yesterday I found out our passports are expired.  Today I received an email congratulating me on my upcoming trip... on March 20th.

We called the government and it looks like even if we paid for expediting them, it takes 4-6 weeks, which wouldn’t be soon enough.  The government says our best bet is to make an appointment at the processing center, but it’s impossible to get appointments.  There are websites that say they can get one in 24 hours, but when I check it out, they don’t seem like they really can.  Has anyone ever used a service like that, and did it work?  Since the trip is free, I wouldn’t mind paying extra to have the passports renewed quickly, I just can’t find out where or how to do it.

TIA!

Abe

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Re: Any tips on how to renew a passport quickly?
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2021, 09:04:42 PM »
I don't think you can get it earlier than that. I'm pretty sure those websites are scams. Sorry, doesn't hurt to try expediting.

SimpleCycle

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Re: Any tips on how to renew a passport quickly?
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2021, 09:27:52 PM »
I have done an in person passport application for travel within two weeks in non-pandemic times, but it seems like appointment slots are extremely limited right now.  I’d call them and ask what to do.

314159

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Re: Any tips on how to renew a passport quickly?
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2021, 09:33:22 PM »
It is definitely possible to get a same-day US passport at a US passport agency. I have a friend who's done this.
Here's some guy's experience. According to https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/get-fast/passport-agencies.html:
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You can schedule your appointment up to 2 weeks before your international travel but the date of your appointment must be within 3 business days of your international travel. If you need a foreign visa, the date of your appointment must be within 10 business days of your international travel.
You can schedule at https://passportappointment.travel.state.gov/. But you probably already knew this and since you said you can't get appointment, I guess this doesn't help you. Definitely try calling them if you haven't already.

You can also try contacting your representative(s) in Congress. For example, my senator writes on her website:
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My office has a strong relationship with the local passport agency and my staff can get issues resolved quickly. This agency can issue same-day passports and passport cards to customers traveling within 14 days or for those who have other urgent needs for a passport.

I *don't* believe all passport expediting services are scams, though I have never heard of them before. E.g. here's a news article  describing some as legit (if expensive). I would keep looking in to these. Hopefully some other forum members can weigh in.

Good luck, congratulations on your win, and I hope you get your passports in time!

SimpleCycle

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Re: Any tips on how to renew a passport quickly?
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2021, 09:38:53 PM »
Yeah, I found an FAQ that basically said the folks on the phone don’t have anything but the same system as online and to keep checking back.

sailinlight

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Re: Any tips on how to renew a passport quickly?
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2021, 10:14:09 PM »
This doesn't sound like a scam to anyone else? Why would whoever gave you your "free" vacation care when you took it? Can't you transfer your airline tickets and hotel reservations to another date in a few months after your passport situation is sorted out? If not that seems pretty shady.

Adventine

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Re: Any tips on how to renew a passport quickly? Req
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2021, 12:26:40 AM »
You can try, but pretty much everything immigration/Dept of State-related is backed up right now. Not sure how quickly you can get a passport renewal expedited these days.

Also research if your free trip covers all the new COVID-related requirements to enter Costa Rica. Last I heard, they require travel insurance with coverage for COVID treatment. The requirements may have changed since then.

Dicey

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Re: Any tips on how to renew a passport quickly?
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2021, 06:04:03 AM »
If a "free" trip during a pandemic causes you this much stress, is it even worth it?

I live outside of a major city that has a passport office. I knew a guy who expedited passports as a side gig. When I found myself in this situation, he talked me through the process gratis. It was still a nail-biter, and it wasn't during a pandemic. If you are reasonably close to a city with an office, and you're active on social media, particularly sites like Next Door, ask for tips  there. Someone will know someone who knows someone...

But I'd spend a bit of energy trying to change the trip dates instead.

SwordGuy

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Re: Any tips on how to renew a passport quickly?
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2021, 08:20:25 AM »
I used a passport expediting service way back in the late 1980s.   It's a real service.   You're paying someone to go stand in line for you at the passport office.

Haven't had to use one since then so I can't give you any recommendations.   And God knows what Covid has done to the process.

reeshau

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Re: Any tips on how to renew a passport quickly?
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2021, 08:32:26 AM »
My company used a service called Travisa.  (travisa.com)  I used them several times (for visas, in addition to passports) but couldn't say how much they cost.  Their website says:

"We are pleased to offer US Passport renewals in 4-6 weeks, less than half the time for routine processing. This is the fastest available time for those without a life or death emergency."

No idea if this is boilerplate or a Covid update, but wouldn't hurt to ask them.

secondcor521

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Re: Any tips on how to renew a passport quickly?
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2021, 02:18:22 PM »
Years ago, I was asked to take an international business trip on short notice (like a week or two).  I said I'd be happy to go.  They said, check your passport.  Whoops, expired.  My company said no problem, we'll use an expediter.

The basic idea with an expediter is that you use FedEx to get your passport sent to and from the expediter, who is in a city where there is a passport office.  Then some person babysits / walks it through the process in a day.  So you can get turnaround times in the 3 day range.

IIRC the cost was between $100 and $200, plus FedEx charges.  Worked out fine, my company paid all the fees since it was their business trip they wanted me to do.

I don't know which expediters are reliable, but there are some out there.  Maybe ask your travel department at your job if you work for a big company, or maybe ask a travel agency who they use.

bogart

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Re: Any tips on how to renew a passport quickly?
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2021, 06:39:23 PM »
Had a similar situation 2 years ago (so, pre-pandemic) -- we (and by we I mean "I") hadn't realized our son's passport expired in 5 years rather than 10 as an adult and discovered it was expired about 2 weeks before an international trip (tickets purchased long prior to discovery of passport problem).  We used a firm called RushMyPassport.com and while I had my doubts, we placed the order on May 28th and had the passport in hand June 5th (I checked so I could give you dates).  I don't know if the pandemic's changed things, but they seem to be legit and worked for us.  It cost about $300 or $400 in total (so, including State Department fees and such). 

littleturkey

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Re: Any tips on how to renew a passport quickly?
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2021, 06:21:42 PM »
Thanks!  What we ended up doing was making an appointment online. What we needed to do was try it in the middle of the night, after they open up the appointment slots.  Now we will go to the office in person.  What a relief!

Someone thought the vacation was a scam.  It isn’t. It was part of the “buy one give one” program for healthcare workers.  We are responsible for our own airfare, coved tests, etc, but the resort is the prize.  After making the appointment to renew the passports I used air miles to buy the plane tickets.  They gave me a form and I was to choose 3 preferred dates.  I chose them before finding out the passports were expired.  The dates weren’t changeable, and they were non transferable, so if I hadn’t figured it out I guess we would’ve just skipped it.

I’m going to put “renew passport” dates in my google calendar now!  And thanks for reminding me about the kids’ passports, too!

Fiddlestix

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Re: Any tips on how to renew a passport quickly?
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2021, 08:48:35 PM »
It is possible to renew without an appointment. You can line up before the official US passport office opens, and they have a line for those with appointments and those without. I would plan to go a few days in a row if possible. I live in a large city so I didn't mind possibly going a few mornings, but I got in my first try. The people at the tail end of our line didn't. Maybe 20 got in, and 10 didn't that day. I was #3.

A bunch of us were there 2 hours before the office opened (**check the hours, diff opening times on diff days). The guards are used to folks waiting (this must happen often) and they just told us where to wait, estimated time for us, etc. Folks with appointments started to line up. After a while, they started letting the non-appt folks in. More lines inside, but once I got to talk to my person, they said to come back in 2 days and that was it. I had I think 5 days before my trip. The guy next to me in line drove for 6 hours to get here, so they gave him his passport that day. That's fair. It was easy for me to come back in a few days, much harder for him.

What you must do is have all of your paperwork done, signed, ready to rock. If not, you have to work on it there and that looked painful. I don't know what happens to your place in line. I printed all my stuff ahead of time and was ready. It was about a 3 minute discussion once I got to my person. Picking up was fast too: walk in, show ID and boom ya done.

reeshau

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Re: Any tips on how to renew a passport quickly?
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2021, 08:51:38 PM »
Don't forget @Adventine 's advice on the insurance requirement to enter Costa Rica!

https://www.visitcostarica.com/en/costa-rica/planning-your-trip/entry-requirements