Photo Credit: Photo credit: cytis
Passport Renewal: A Guide to Expedite the Process and Avoid Travel Nightmares
Dreams of seeing the rice fields in Bali or experiencing a private island in Belize have turned into travel nightmares for many due to passport renewal delays. As the U.S. experiences record renewal requests and massive wait times after the pandemic, travelers are left scrambling to obtain their passports in time for their adventures.
Most Common Way to Renew
The United States Postal Service is the most common way to renew or replace a passport, but the current wait time is up to nine weeks with a $60 fee for expedited service. Before the pandemic, the expedited service took only two to three weeks, while the standard service took six to eight weeks. The standard wait time is extended to 10 to 13 weeks, following changes made by the State Department in March.
Travel expert Nicole Campoy Jackson of Fora Travel shared some tips with People Magazine to help expedite the passport renewal process. One option she recommends is using services, like passportsandvisas.com, which can obtain and expedite your passport application in as little as 24 hours. This will get it back to you in as quickly as three days. These services work with passport agencies of the U.S. Department of State and have been found to be reliable and efficient by Jackson.
While using an expediting agency may come with a higher cost, Jackson insists that it’s worth it for the peace of mind and time-saving benefits. The services ensure that all paperwork is in order and help travelers avoid stressful delays caused by missing documents or user errors.
Passportsandvisas.com offers services starting at $149 for a slower option of 25 business days and $699 for the fastest service, which guarantees arrival within four business days. For new passport applications, the cheapest option guarantees arrival in 12 business days and costs $349. These agencies can also work with consulates to expedite visas quickly.
For those seeking cheaper alternatives to expedite the process, Jackson suggests trying to make an appointment directly with the State Department. They can renew an expired, lost or stolen passport within 14 days. However, getting an appointment can be challenging, as the agency is often busy. If successful, some locations can print the passport on-site, saving time and money.
Check Your Passport’s Current Expiration Date
To avoid last-minute passport renewal headaches, Jackson advises travelers to check their passport’s expiration date and visa requirements after booking a flight. Many countries require passports to be valid for 3-6 months upon entry. She also recommends having copies of all necessary documents, including birth certificates, Social Security cards, and marriage or divorce certificates, when applying for or renewing a passport.
By being proactive and exploring options like expediting agencies or direct appointments with the State Department, travelers can safeguard against travel nightmares and ensure their passports are ready for their next adventure.