By Briana Seftel
So you’ve got sunscreen, comfortable walking shoes and guide books packed, but something feels off – what could it be? A passport, duh! If you’re traveling outside the U.S. (yes, that’s means Canada too) you will need a valid passport. If you don’t have a passport (or it expired), we compiled all the necessary info you'll need to start traveling!
If You Have 24 Hours...
Find a third party passport expeditor
There are a few things worse than realizing you have an expired passport when you're scheduled to fly in 24 hours. What's even worse is being scammed by a shady passport company promising quick service and/or a low fee.
However, with a little bit of research, you can find a reputable third party expeditor service. Check Yelp and the Better Business Bureau, and compare a few different places to find what's best for you. One such company is ItsEasy, one of the most trusted names in the industry that has been operating for more than 40 years. While paying an expeditor service will cost you a pretty penny, you'll end up saving a lot more than canceling your entire vacation!
If You Have One Week...
Go to a regional passport agency
Another way to renew a passport in a hurry is through the National Passport Center, a government-run agency which accepts appointments if you are traveling internationally in less than two weeks or need to obtain a foreign visa within four weeks.
There are 27 Regional Passport Agencies across the country (most are in major cities) and appointments are required. Be sure to bring all the necessary documentation and IDs or you risk being turned down.
If You Have One Month...
You'll need to expedite it
If you're traveling within the month, you'll need to choose an expedited service outside of the regular routine service offered by the government. Expedited service takes 2-3 weeks to process and costs an additional $60 on top of the regular $110 fee. If you are a first time applicant, you will need to go to a passport agency or center in person. If you're renewing, you can do it by mail.
If You Have More Than One Month...
You're in luck, because routine passport service takes 6-8 weeks. Whether you’re renewing or applying for the first time, you’ll need to fill out an application (DS-11 form) online. Once you’ve filled all the required information (this should take approximately 10-15 minutes), you will be prompted to a payment page. A standard passport book is $110, a passport card is $30 and a combination of the two is $140.
Once you enter in your payment information, choose the standard service, sit back and relax. Once you receive it in the mail, you're ready to travel!