Getting a US passport can be a waiting affair, depending on when you apply. While it is never good to put things off until the last minute, sometimes that can actually be rewarding when it comes to getting your US passport quickly! Here is my account of getting a US passport in 2 hours!
Getting a US Passport in 2 Hours
Link: US Passport Agencies
While the wait time if you apply normally can be 3 – 6 weeks (depending on the time of year and load of new applicants), it is possible to get them quicker. Of course, this requires paying an expedite fee but if you need your passport in less than 3 weeks, that can be the smart thing to do.
But, if your travel is imminent, or your need of a visa is imminent, you can actually apply in person at US Passport Agencies around the US and get your passport in as little as hours or as long as a few days (depending on your case). There are 26 Passport Agencies that you can visit and you can find the list and their locations at this page here.
How to Get Your Passport in Hours or Days
Here is the procedure:
First, Do You Fit the Requirements?
Not just anyone can get a US passport through these agencies. These are reserved for last minute needs and you will need to demonstrate that need. That means proof of travel within the next 2 weeks from the date of the appointment or the need for a foreign visa within the next 4 weeks. If you can prove either one of those, you can go ahead and make your appointment.
Make Your Appointment with the US Passport Agency
Phone Number: (877) 487-2778
Now that you know you fit the requirements, you can make your appointment. Appointments can only be made within 2 weeks of the day you are calling. These appointments are made through a 24 hour automated phone system and selecting a time in the afternoon can be tedious as it will go through each half hour block from the opening time! Or, you can select to have the next available appointment.
Once you select the date and time of your appointment, you will be given a confirmation number. Do not lose that number! You will be asked for it when you show up for your appointment before you are given your ticket number.
Get Your Documents Together
Here is the list of things you will be required to bring for your passport appointment:
- Evidence of US Citizenship (Passport or birth certificate)
- Photo ID (Driver’s license, for example)
- 1 Passport Photo
- Check/Money Order/Credit Card
- Proof of immediate travel – airline ticket/reservation/letter
- Passport application – DS-11 for first-time applicants or DS-82 for passport renewals
Yes, unlike a Post Office, you can pay for your passport at a Passport Agency with a credit card! The fee will be higher since it includes the expedite fee, though. Your total will be $170 for passport renewal or $195 for a new passport.
For the proof of immediate travel, just bring a copy of your international ticket reservation. In my case, I was actually heading out the next day but really didn’t need it then. I was applying for a second passport and just need the numbers and photo of the front page for a visa so was planning on having them mail it to my family. I explained this but they still processed it the same day!
The Earlier the Better
If you would like to get your passport the same day and your travel is very immediate, you should try for an appointment earlier in the day. In my case, it was an afternoon appointment because that was as early as I could get there (I was actually arriving from Europe just before that). If you are going to a big city Passport Agency, they may be open a little later than the other agencies.
For example, the Buffalo Passport Agency that I had used before is open until 4PM while the New York City Passport Agency I used this time was open until 6PM. If you are just in the city for the day, tell them that and they may go ahead and process it for you that same day.
My Experience Getting a US Passport in 2 Hours
In my case, I needed my main passport back because I was headed out the next day internationally (I had brought both my current 2nd passport and my regular passport). However, since my current passport was the most recent, the agent said he thought they may need to keep that one. That is when he said to come back in 2 hours and pick up my new passport!
I know there are a lot of things that we can complain about with government sometimes (especially with places like the Post Office!) but I have to tell you that my experiences with Passport Agencies have been incredible! The staff is very kind and helpful and I never heard anyone being berated for waiting until the last minute to get their passport. To me it is just unbelievable that I was able to give my papers in at 3:30PM and pick up my new passport 2 hours later!
If you do find yourself in a bind and needing a passport quickly, definitely use the US Passport Agencies. As they will tell you on the phone and on the website, do not pay any agency for such an appointment as the appointments are free and available to any applicant!