How to get a passport — fast

A customs agent in Turkey was unable to tell the difference between a real U.K. passport and a plastic toy passport belonging to a pink unicorn. Credit: Getty Images
Bon voyage!
Credit: Getty Images

Man is prone to wanderlust, and the responsible ones already possess a tattered passport. But not everyone is responsible. As Eddie Izzard once said, America doesn’t make it easy for Americans to travel. Indeed, acquiring or renewing a passport is a slow and pricey endeavor, which can take as long as six weeks and whose total cost reaches upwards of $200. But if you’re suddenly jetting to greener pastures within only a few weeks, or even a few days, you still have options.

Go the traditional route

The good news: Government passport agencies aren’t entirely unsympathetic towards abruptly planned international trips. “Many cities, such as New York City, will offer expedited passports if you visit the passport office in person and can demonstrate that you plan to travel within two weeks,” says Sarah Gavin, Director, Public Relations and Social Media at Expedia.

The bad news: It’s not foolproof. The number of appointments are few, in part because passport agencies are only open a handful of hours during the weekday. This isn’t often a problem, but during busy seasons — particularly summer, when everyone wants to ditch America — regional offices in major cities, like New York City and Philadelphia, are too often clogged to the point where there are no appointments. You may be asked to visit offices in far-flung Buffalo or New Hampshire — a problem if you’re a carless urbanite.

Even then there may be an unexpected issue — something in your past that requires further snooping — that may slow the process. And you might wind up stuck with a ticket you purchased to get the passport, only to wind up passport-free. But there’s still another option.

Go through an expediting agency

As any richie knows, the way to solve any problem is to hurl money at it. If you have a flight abroad but don’t yet have an appointment to acquire a passport, you can try an expediting service (like Passport Visas Express, www.passportvisasexpress.com), which can turn passports around in as little as three days. It’s not cheap: Depending on how quickly you need it, the fee can go as high as $200, plus any overnight FedEx fees — and that’s on top of the usual passport fees. But if there’s a will, and a pile of excess cash, there’s a way.


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