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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Same Day Passport Service for US Passports

While we were on the road over Christmas, we realized that two of the family's passports expire April 2012. So, we made a pit stop in Tucson on the way back to the boat. I called the Western Passport Agency in Tucson and made an appointment for the following day. We needed renewed passports expedited - and I mean fast! We had no idea what to expect.

We arrived with our appointment confirmation number and our passports and explained our situation. Yes, they said we could get our passports "expedited". The only tricky part was that they wanted proof that we wouldn't be in the United States in the next 4-5 weeks. For example, a letter from our employer stating that we needed to travel. Nope. An airline ticket. Nope. How about our Mexican insurance policy for the car? Yep.

And get this...
Jim and I had our renewed passports in our hands in 3 hours! I kid you not. Because we are living on our boat in Mexico and plan to sail further south in January, Tucson super-expedited our passport renewals and we walked away with them in our hot little hands within hours.

THE KEY TO GETTING YOUR PASSPORT IN ONE DAY:

  • Your passport has to be processed at one of the Regional Centers
  • Make an appointment. 1-877-487-2778. This number is an automated service available 24/7.  I was able to run through all the options and actually speak with a rep who suggested I use the Mexican car insurance policy as proof we needed our passports faster than not.
  • Have 2 passport photos made before you show up for your appointment. Jim and I walked into a Walgreen's and had them taken immediately the evening before our special day. It cost about $10 each for 2 photos and we walked out ten minutes later with our photos in hand. CVS Pharmacy does them and they even have a $2 off coupon. Rite Aid does them. Walmart. Kinko's.
  • To renew, bring your current passport, your 2 passport photos, and some other form of ID, like your driver's license.
  • Show up a few minutes before your scheduled appointment with your appointment confirmation number. Fill out forms. Pay. It was $110 per person to renew our passports. In addition, there was a $60 per person fee to have our passports "expedited". They do accept major credit cards, which is good since we weren't carrying $340 cash on us.
You can have them shipped to you in a hurry in some cases. For us, that wasn't prudent since we were crossing the border that day. However, here is how to get your passport in a hurry if you're not leaving the US for a few days.

All in all, it was a pleasant experience. Easy. Faster than I could have ever imagined. Nice, humorous, happy government employees - for a change. And we were ever so grateful...
that we didn't have to expedite the kid's passports, too!

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