Pam Patterson/Pixabay

In the right circumstances, you can procure a passport in as little as 72 hours

Quick notes:

  • Before you look at expediting your passport, it helps to understand how the typical process works

  • You can expedite your passport for a fee

  • Timelines of less than two weeks require an in-person application

While it is great to plan itinerary well in advance of any trip, sometimes it just isn’t possible to do so. You get a last-minute opportunity abroad that you just can’t turn down, or you’re required to board a flight out of the country for an illness, a death, or another important reason.

In either case, if you don’t have your passport ready to go, you might not be heading anywhere. Luckily, there’s something you can do to expedite your passport renewal.

The basics info for ordering your passport

To understand how to get a quick turnaround for ordering your passport, it helps to understand more about what a typical process is like. This process can vary depending on whether you’re asking for a first-time passport or requesting a renewal. Either process can take between 6 and 8 weeks, including mail time.

Bench Accounting on Unsplash

First-time passport request: First-time requestors will need to gather several documents together, including their proof of identity and proof of citizenship documents. They’ll also need to complete a formal application on the State Department’s website. They should complete, but not sign, their form and then bring both the application and their proof of identity/citizenship documents to their nearest post office.

At the post office, a specially trained employee can take part of the fees, witness you signing your document, and take some passport photos. Once your photos are taken, and your application is signed, you can mail them, along with the rest of your passport fees, into the State Department. If you have any questions, the post office employee can help you. NOTE: Requirements for passport applications for those who are 16 and under are slightly different. 

First-time requestors will need to gather a number of documents together

Renewal passport request: A passport renewal is much easier. You need to check that your passport is eligible for renewal, complete a renewal application, have photos taken, and then send in the application along with fees and new photos.

Requesting quick passport turnaround times

If you need a passport more quickly, it can be arranged. Generally, the timeline for an expedited passport is about 2-3 weeks, including mail time. You do not need to expedite in person, but there is an additional fee of $60 that’s required.

If you need your passport in less than two weeks, you’ll need to make an appointment to apply for your passport in person at a specifically designated passport agency or center. Take care to be precise about scheduling. While you can set the date in advance of two weeks ahead of travel, the appointment itself needs to be within the two-week window.

Emergency passport processing can be accomplished for special circumstances

If you have a situation like a serious illness, emergency, or death in the family, it is possible to procure your passport sooner. These emergency passport services can provide someone with a passport within 72 hours. They require proof of the emergency and proof of your international itinerary.

Other special situations related to issuing and using a passport

In addition to needing a passport quickly, there are other situations where procuring a passport gets complicated. For example, individuals who owe more than $2,500 in past child support payments aren’t eligible to receive a passport. Also, those involved in child custody disputes may be eligible for assistance to prevent their child from being taken abroad without their permission or to help both parents to be able to identify their location until they are 18.

A deeper dive – Related reading from the 101: