So you’ve worked out every detail of your upcoming vacation down to the T. You’ve booked your flight months ago, double, triple and quadruple checked your hotel reservations, and even scheduled your 7-day itinerary with such detail to include rest and meal times. But now the clock is ticking and that one little but important pesky task that you kept putting off for months is staring you in the face – applying for your passport.
Okay, so before you have a panic attack after coming to the realization that you possibly should have spent less time bikini shopping and more time getting your ducks in a row, follow these 4 important steps to get your US passport expedited in a hurry.
Step 1: Make an appointment
In order to get an expedited passport you must make an appointment at your nearest passport agency for emergency passport services. In doing so, you’ll drastically cut down your wait time and eliminate the dreaded never ending long line. If you don’t have a regional passport agency in your area and you aren’t able to saddle up for the road trip to get to one, try calling the National Passport Information Center. They’re there to help.
Step 2: Gather Your Documents
Proof of travel. First things first, if you’re applying for an expedited passport because you plan on traveling out of the county within the next two weeks – bring your proof of immediate travel.
Evidence of U.S. Citizenship – This has to be an original document and the most common form is your Certified U.S. Birth Certificate. If you weren’t born in the U.S., you can also use your Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a Certificate of Naturalization/ Citizenship or your previous U.S. Passport as long as it’s not damaged - expired is okay.
Photo Identification – You must present a Valid Driver’s License and a second ID if issued in a different state than where you applying. An undamaged U.S. passport, Certificate of Naturalization or valid government or military ID also works in lieu of a Driver’s License.
Step 3: Take a Photo
It must be a recent photo taken within the last 6 months and printed on matte or glossy photo quality paper. You’ll want the photo to reflect your current appearance and it must be taken on a plain white or black background. And as much as we all love your stunning model-like profile selfies, unfortunately in this one you’ll have to look directly at the camera and no selfies allowed. Click here for a full list of photo requirements.
Step 4: Collect Your Fees
If you’re applying for a U.S. passport for the first time expect to pay the $135 application fee. If you’re simply renewing an expired one, then the fee is $110.
Don’t forget the National Passport Center expedite fee of $60.
Step 5: Complete and Print Forms
Complete the online DS-11 form from the National Passport Center then click print (or you can print it then complete it manually.) Whichever method you chose, make sure not to sign it until you’re instructed to do so in person.
In a nutshell, while obtaining your U.S. passport may not be as exciting as planning your group scuba diving lessons in the Bahamas…you won’t get to the Bahamas without it. Make sure to plan ahead to avoid a panic and as I prefer, travel safe, not sorry.