What to Do When Your Expedited Passport Doesn’t Arrive in Time

Catherine Parker Avatar
Photo credit: Deb Steenhagen

Are you planning an international vacation in 2024? If so, go find your passport — right now. Is it still valid? If so, good for you. If not, you’re like my husband. He’s not a frequent traveler and hasn’t been out of the country in the last six years. So we shouldn’t have been surprised to discover that his passport was about to expire — just as we were ready to book a winter trip to Puerto Vallarta.

We did what you’re probably doing: We panicked. It turns out that wasn’t necessary. We used the State Department’s expedited service and got his passport back in less than 3 weeks.

Here’s what we did and everything you need to know to get your US passport FAST, from application to proof of identity to photos and expediting fees.

Passport Timing

Passport processing is finally recovering from the lengthy delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. These days, the State Department says it takes 7-10 weeks for routine processing and promises that expedited processing will take no more than 25 days. Check here to see the most updated processing times.

Note that the clock starts ticking when your application arrives at the processing office. So do what we did: pay extra to have the post office deliver your application in 1-3 days and then pay again so the State Department returns your new passport in 1-2 days.

Passport Fees

Here’s what we paid for hubby’s passport renewal:

  • $130 application fee
  • $60 expediting fee
  • $19.53 express mail delivery fee

If you’re applying for your first-ever passport, you’ll also have to pay a $30 “acceptance fee.” Also, the application fee for a child’s passport (ages 15 and under) is reduced to $100. All other fees — expediting, express mail and acceptance — remain the same.

Read More: Travel easier with our Ultimate Packing List

How to Learn the Status of Your Passport Application

If it’s getting close to your departure date and you still don’t have your passport, don’t despair. Take a deep breath, then check online to see where your application is in the process.

The first step is to check the Online Passport Status System. You’ll get an almost instantaneous response.  You also can call the passport processing office at 1 877 487-2778 (TTY 1 888 874-7793), but expect to be on hold for a looooong time. Note: It takes 7 to 10 business days for your passport application to be trackable.

If you used a third-party service to expedite your passport, your first call should be to that company. If that’s unavailable, use the Online Passport Status System or call 1 877 487-2778 (TTY 1 888 874-7793).

SheBuysTravel Tip: Send all passport applications via USPS Priority Mail with a tracking number or use FedEx or UPS so you have a receipt to know when your application arrives at the passport office.

Tips for visiting Paris - passport and euro bills and coins.
Photo credit: Eric Jay Toll.
  1. Fill out the DS-82 (U.S. Passport Renewal Application form) online and print it out.
  2. Get new passport photos taken. (You can save money on passport photos by taking your own photos or head to the local CVS or Walgreens for quick and easy passport photos.
  3. Write a check for the total amount — in our case, it was $209.53, to cover the application fee, expediting fee and express mail fee.
  4. Package the application, photos, check and your old passport and head to the local post office to mail it via USPS Priority Mail.

Types of Expedited Passports

We used the standard expedited passport service, so there was no need to prove we planned travel. But there are two situations when you will have to prove you have travel planned:

Life or Death Emergency for Immediate Travel: Call the State Department at 1-877-487-2778 (Mon-Fri from 8am-8pmET) or 202-647-4000 after hours and on weekends and holidays. You’ll need to provide proof of the emergency, such as a death certificate or doctor’s note. This process kicks in when an immediate family member, such as a child, parent or spouse, has had a serious illness, injury or died and you are required to travel internationally within 72 hours. If you are outside the US when you get the call, head to the nearest US Embassy or Consulate.

International Travel with the Next 3 Weeks: Call 1-877-487-2778 to make an appointment at a passport agency or center. Appointments are limited. Since I live in Chicago, it’s very hard to get an appointment at my local agency. I heard about one man who got a plane and flew to Detroit, where he was able to secure an appointment. You will need to provide proof of your planned travel, such as a plane ticket.

SheBuysTravel Tip: The State Department does not charge a fee to make an appointment at a passport agency office. If you call and someone wants you to pay, you’ve called the wrong place.

My Passport is Expired and I Leave Tomorrow

After saying a few choice words, it’s time to get busy. First, cancel your calls; getting your passport within 24 hours will take a more concerted effort. Next, find a registered passport expediter like OnlineExpeditors or Rushmypassport. These are private companies and not part of the US Department of State.

For expedited 24-hour service (not same day), you will still have to collect all the same information as any other U.S. passport renewal. Proof of citizenship, proof of identity and passport photos are all required. And you have to pay all of the same government fees, plus the private company fees.

Read More: 16 Surprising Places Americans Can Visit Without a Passport

Private Expedited Service Details

With a private expediting service, you are hiring a person to hand-deliver your application to the closest passport office that issues same-day passports. Then a person will retrieve and overnight your new passport back to you.

It is expensive. This expedited service costs hundreds of dollars, depending on the company you choose. For example, Swift Passport Services charges $399 on top of the government processing fees and cost of the passport photos to get your passport to you in one business day.

The good news? Most expediters take credit cards and your package includes tracking information.

The process starts when you fill out the expediter’s online application. Print out the completed application with the required documentation and photos and ship it to the nearest expediter’s location.

You’re Leaving in 2 Weeks

So your boss hands you a plane ticket for a meeting in London and your passport is expired.

First, grab the tickets, then make an appointment for the next available date at the nearest U.S. Passport Agency that issues same-day passports. Gather and complete all requirements, then take passport photos. In addition, remember appointments are necessary and often fill up days in advance.

Same-Day Passport Agencies Across the U.S.

  • Arkansas Passport Center in Hot Springs, Arkansas
  • Atlanta Passport Agency in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Boston Passport Agency in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Buffalo Passport Agency in Buffalo, New York
  • Charleston Passport Agency (mail only)
  • Chicago Passport Agency in Chicago, Illinois
  • Colorado Passport Agency in Aurora, Colorado
  • Connecticut Passport Agency in Stamford, Connecticut
  • Dallas Passport Agency in Dallas, Texas
  • Detroit Passport Agency in Detroit, Michigan
  • El Paso Passport Agency in El Paso, Texas
  • Honolulu Passport Agency in Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Houston Passport Agency in Houston, Texas
  • Los Angeles Passport Agency in Los Angeles, California
  • Miami Passport Agency in Miami, Florida
  • Minneapolis Passport Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • National Passport Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  • New Orleans Passport Center in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • New York Passport Agency in New York, New York
  • Philadelphia Passport Agency in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • San Diego Passport Agency in San Diego, California
  • San Francisco Passport Agency in San Francisco, California
  • San Juan Passport Agency in San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Seattle Passport Agency in Seattle, Washington
  • Vermont Passport Agency in St. Albans, Vermont
  • Washington Passport Agency in Washington, D.C.
  • Western Passport Center in Tucson, Arizona
person holding passport in front of backdrop of us flag
If it’s your first passport, read and follow the instructions carefully. Photo credit: Pixabay

How to Get Your First Passport

All adult passport applications for U.S. residents require the same information, expedited or not. Hopefully, you have this information in a secure place in your home, like a fire safe.

First, download the correct form from the U.S. Department of State (DS-11) or pick one up from your post office. Then gather the required information and get photos taken.

If it’s your first passport (or you’re under 16 or have a lost/stolen passport), you will be required to appear in person. Usually the local post office processes passport applications with required documentation and photos.

First, call to confirm your post office takes passport applications. Then arrange an appointment to submit your application. Follow the U.S. passport application instructions carefully.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Don’t make these mistakes when applying for your child’s first passport.

Proof of U.S. Citizenship

To prove your citizenship, most applicants use the following:

  • Previous passport issued less than 15 years ago. (Passports that have been expired for five years or longer cannot be renewed. You will need to apply for a new passport.)
  • Official certified birth certificate, with full name, date and place of birth, sex, date the birth record was filed and seal or other certification of the official custodian of such records (state, county or city or town office) and the full names of your parents.

Proof of Identity

Along with proof of U.S. citizenship, you will be required to submit proof of identity. If you already have a valid passport, it can also be used for proof of identity.

Another option: Submit an item that contains both your signature and a photograph, like a U.S. passport card, a driver’s license, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship, military identification or federal, state or municipal government employee identification card.

Temporary or altered documents will not be accepted and names must match exactly.

Color Photograph for Passport

A recent photograph (six months or newer) is required according to the passport specifics. You can take it yourself, though it’s easier to head to a photo processing place, like your local drugstore or grocery store. Most places charge less than $20 for two photos.

If you’re in a rush, there are some ways to take these photos at home. If you’re not in a rush there are definitely some free options for passport photos.

Helpful Tips for Filing Your Passport Application

  • Since the U.S. Department of State is a stickler for details, fill out the application correctly. Double-check all applications.
  • Only use black ink on the passport application. Using any other color could get it denied and sent back.
  • Be sure to read all guidelines for passport photos. You cannot wear glasses in photos. Don’t do anything to get your photo rejected.
  • If you find the passport requirements confusing, hire a service to renew your passport.
  • Mail all passport applications USPS Priority Mail with a tracking number or use FedEx or UPS.
  • When you get your passport back from the U.S. Department of State, store all important documents in a fireproof safe.
Catherine Parker has a passion for travel with only one state left in her quest of seeing all 50. As a former flight attendant, she’s landed in nearly every major North American airport at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting national parks, historic sites and cultural icons. She’s a freelance writer and journalist based out of Central Texas, dividing her time between writing and restoring a 95-year-old house. She shares her life with her three kids, her husband, yardful of cats, a dog and three backyard chickens.
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40 responses

  1. I experdite my passport on May 16, 2022 and I expected to get on time to attend mother memorial and today is August 9, 2022 and up to this moment I haven’t received it.

    1. I am in same boat. I expedited my daughter’s passport on May 24th and still no passport. They should start auto refunding the expedite fees when it takes this long. Calling doesn’t help either. Not sure where is this stuck.

  2. All, Thank you for this post and the comments shared. I am traveling to Greece on 8/26. I forgot to expedite my passport renewal on 6/6 and I also received a letter on 7/19 that I needed to send in a new photo. I mailed a new photo back using USPS priority mail. I checked my passport status today that it’s still processing, so I called the 877-487-2778 to see if I can still expedite the renewal process and was told to fill out a form and email it back to them. Just wanted to ask if others have filled out this form before and had any luck? If my passport status remains as processing next week, I’ll call my congressman’s office to see if I can get assistance.
    You must include the following information in your email for us to process your request:

    A subject line that includes your date of travel, type of request (Upgrade), and locator number (if known). Example: 8/12/2022 – Upgrade – 123456789
    Applicant Name (first, middle, last):
    Locator Number (if known):
    Date of Birth:
    Contact Phone Number:
    Email Address:
    Date of Travel (if applicable):
    Credit Card Type (Visa, Mastercard, etc.):
    Full Name of Credit Card Account Holder:
    Credit Card Account Number:
    3-Digit CVC Number:
    Credit Card Expiration Date (month and year):
    Credit Card Billing Address (street address, city, state, zip):
    Response to this statement: I am requesting expedited service (Yes or No):
    Response to this statement: I am requesting 1-2 day delivery of my completed passport (Yes or No):

    1. Same situation we sent the passport via mail expedited and was receive 7/5/22 and on 7/27 the photo had to be retaken – the Virginia office received it 8/1/22 and the status is processing. We are supposed to leave in 13 days. Did you get yours?

      1. Same situation here. My application was received and they began processing on 7/5/22. Then on 7/27/22 I received a letter asking for additional ID. I made copies of every peice of ID I had access to. Voters registration card, social security card, Old Drivers license, vehicle title, even a photo copy of my old passport that expired in 2020. (Lost during a move). I overnighted all the info back the same day i got the letter, its been over a week and staus hasnt changed still says processing same message from day 1. Im going to Canada on 8/22 and now im starting to panic. My application is being processed at the virginia office too even though i live in texas.

  3. Hello, the application for passport renewal is current in process at the US Passport location. We recently received a notice that my wife’s picture needs to be retaken and sent in. We leave for Mexico in 1 month from today.
    I am searching for possible options to expedite this process further as we only have 4-5 weeks before we depart.
    Thank you,

    1. I read in a blog to contact my senator and in another blog to contact my congressperson. I was so desperate that I figured it didn’t hurt. Kinda felt silly doing so. She contacted me 2 days ago and requested the information (your flight has to be within 2 weeks). I talked to her yesterday and said she didn’t guarantee anything but that she had sent a request to expedite my passport. Oh my goodness, I received an email this morning saying that it was being sent overnight and should receive it tomorrow.

      1. I saw your comment and am just as desperate. I am to leave on Monday, June 11, 2022, for Barranquilla, Columbia. My local US Passport Agency sent me an email on June 30 that indicated it was “In Progress” and “almost ready.” I still have not received my passport. I paid extra for an expedited application and paid the Post Office for Express, 2-day delivery once the passport is mailed. I’m getting way too close and have reached a crossroads. If I am not sure by Thursday, the 7th, that it was mailed, I will have to change my travel plans. This is not a pleasure trip. So, I just sent an email to my US Congressman, who lives in the same neighborhood as me, begging fo assistance. I feel silly asking for help for something that must seem so inconsequential to them, but I am desperate. I will remain hopeful. I saw your comment by accident and thought, “Hmmm…..the worst thing that can happen is that I am told no, they cannot help me.”

        1. If you haven’t received a response, try calling their office. I called my US Congressman’s office and they picked up after a few rings and directed me to a form to fill out (digital release form) so they can take my details and start digging for me. I leave on 7/13 so I’m hoping this helps speed the process up. Best of luck to you!!!

      2. Thank YOU for posting this. I leave in one week and when I called the National Passport Information Center, they said that there are zero appointments across the nation at any agencies between today and my travel date. I called my US Congressmen and the person that picked up the phone was kind and encouraging that we’d be able to get this taken care of. He had me fill out a form online and said he could either see if my passport will get to me in time OR try to find me an appointment somewhere. I’ll try to come back to let you all know if my passport gets here in time. Fingers crossed! Posting in case anybody is in the same bind as me!

        1. Update! My representative’s office helped me get my passport in time for my trip. Passport agency received my renewal application on 6/22. I contacted my representative on 7/6, they reached out to the passport processing center, my passport shipped on 7/8, and I received it on 7/11. If you are in a rush, definitely call and email all your representatives and congressmen. It feels weird, but they have employees in their offices that help with passports! Thank you to the original commenter, you saved me from having to cancel my trip!!! And hope this helps somebody in the future in the same bind as me!

          1. Helena. I am so stressed about my trip. I am going to go visit my congressman’s office today. I really do hope that they can somehow help me. I am really happy it was resolved for you.

          2. Hello Helena.
            I also have a similar situation. I have been waiting for my passport since applying in April and my trip to Costa Rica is July 29th. I read your post and decided to drive to the office of my congressman just to give it a shot. I am so desperate and stressed at this point. The staff was so happy and they are currently trying to assist me with the process. I will try to update what happened just in case it can help someone else in my predicament.

          3. Thank you so much for all of your posts. we are going to try this. We are set to leave on the 26th of July for Ireland and have not received our newborn granddaughter’s passport. we applied within days of her being born They started the process on May 25th and we paid for expedited service and still don’t have it. We called when we were eligible to make an appointment and there are none available. The woman told me all I can do is keep calling back to see if one opens up.

          4. Hi Helena,

            I called our congresswoman office and I have to print a document and fill out etc. Actually bought a printer to get this completed and sent to her admins. Hopefully I will get my passport in time of our trip in 13 days.

          5. Hi Helen,

            I did exactly what you did today (9/26) as my passport should have been received on 9/15 and I still have not received it. Filled out the privacy release form and just waiting now. My trip is 10/13…cutting it pretty close so I hope I get mine soon. I also did expedite my passport but again, still have not received. Will update as I get updates!

  4. I’m trying to re get my first time passport I live in West Palm Beach Florida I need to know the best place that I can go and cheapest way I can go to get my passport

  5. Right now the time estimate is 8-11 weeks to get your passport. I’m just curious how long it is really taking people to get them? Has anyone gotten theirs sooner?

    1. I applied for my newborns 1st passport on March 29th. Was accepted at April 6th. Issued on May 5th. And received to my house May 6th! Paid for regular service. I think kids are faster.

      1. Where do you live ? I applied for my new born may 13, they received it may 17. Still waiting and we leave June 22. I am in Los Angeles

        1. same here I applied on April 23rd for my kids. Still haven’t recieved it and we leave June 23

    2. Was recieved at my house May 7th. Can’t update the original comment. Sorry.

    3. Did you get your passports? I am a week away from my flight and all it still says “In process”. How many days in process?

      1. Did you get your passport now I am in the same situation

    4. My 13 -year old nephew applied exactly one week before I applied on May 27, 2022. He received his within 3-weeks. I was told that with my expedited application and 2-day delivery, it would take 5-7 weeks, but currently (at THAT time) people were getting theirs within 3 weeks. I have been monitoring the website every day, and I see many different time frames, one as long as 16 weeks. It is impossible to reach them by telephone, which is what they tell you that you must do if you are traveling within 2 weeks and have not received your passport. I am quickly approaching my “drop-dead” date. I don’t blame them, they are backlogged with passport applications that they received during the height of COVID. I only wish I had been told that when I submitted my application.

  6. hello everyone,
    I live in Chicago and I am having the same issue,,, this is week 6 and my daughter’s passport still processing according to the website. we are supposed to travel in 9 days and nobody seems to be able to help, there are not appointments available to get the passport same day and we booked everything according to what the agent told us when we went to get the passport. This is crazy and supper inconvenient, if the agent would it told us 10-15 weeks we can easily adjust our times and plan ahead but this is not fair for any of us.
    Does anyone have any advice ?

  7. Both my husbands and my passports were stolen, We only found out our passports were stolen when we received a letter from the Sheriffs office saying they had my husbands passport. Unfortunately my passport never turned up. We have tickets to travel to Costa Rica on the 22nd of December. I did go to the post office immediately and submit the proper paperwork for expedited service. Problem is Im leaving in a week and still no passport. When I call the 800 number they tell me my passport is being processed and thats all the information they have. When I ask for an appointment they tell me there is none available. I appreciate any information to help me get my passport on time. My whole family is going for the holidays and I dont want to be left behind!

    1. Karen, did you get your passport in time? I’m having the same problem. My travel is in 5 days and my passport has been processing for 5 weeks now. I paid to expedite and still running the risk of not getting it in time.

      1. Did either of you receive your passports in time? I’m travelling 02/04 and have an appointment tomorrow to expedite our passports. Want to know if I should cancel our flights.

        1. Did you get your passport on time? I applied for mine on 12/10/2020, and they just received it yesterday. Our flight is for 02/12/2021 and even though I paid for it to be expedited, I am very nervous that it will not arrive on time.

          1. Hi Kesia,

            I am in the same boat as you. I mail my application in on 12/11/2020 and it was received on 1/11/2021. I have a flight booked on 2/07/2021. Please keep me posted on what happens with your passport!!

      2. Did you get yours on time?

      3. did you get your passport on time? currently awaiting on mine and wonder if i’ll get it on time.

        1. I had my passport appointment on 2/2/2021My trip is is on 3/11/2021. Do you think I’ll receive mine? I paid for expedited

    2. Karen did you get your passport on time?

  8. I just wanted to share my experience so maybe other moms didn’t have to go through what I did. I had numerous problems getting my passport along with my children’s. Everything that was the issue was issues because of mistakes by the agency. However, no one at the agency would listen or take my issues seriously. I kept hearing, you just have to wait. Well with 6 days left until my day of travel I called my local senator and within 36 hours of that call I had all 3 passports in my hand and an apology from the agency. So call your senator !

    1. Thank you so much for posting this. Saved me a lot of time and possibly a lot of money. ❤️

  9. even if you follow the above steps your passport can still not arrive in time and you have no reproach even if you contact your congressperson and they intervene. Permission for its issuance can be delayed by the US State Dept which you cannot contact regarding the issue or find out what the delay is. There is no accounability. It happened to us, mine arrived my husband’s didnt though they told us it’d be 2 days to pick up. Mine was available 3 days later but my husband still did not get his 14 days later and we applied togteher. He lost his ticket and my son and I had to got to a foreign country alone. He is still back home waiting.

    1. Thanks for your input and I am sorry that your trip suffered because of passports failing to arrive in time.

  10. I found it interesting that you can get a life or death emergency passport. My dad was just given 48 hours to live, and I need to get into the country for the funeral services and to be with my family. I will keep this in mind while I look for a company that can issue a US passport in time.

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