Processing a passport application can take as many as six weeks. But not all travelers have the luxury of time. Fortunately, the U.S. State Department and international U.S. Embassies can issue temporary or emergency passports.
Even if you’re traveling within 24 hours (last-minute business trip and your passport is expired?) a Passport Agency can help you get a passport in time for your departure.
Bring your application, payment for necessary fees, and proof of immediate international travel to your regional center. If possible, book an appointment in advance, though many have walk-in hours. Most are located in large cities such as New York and San Francisco. Though you’ll find they’re not unlike the DMV (a purgatory-like waiting system is pretty requisite for most government agencies) it’s the best way to get an emergency passport without involving third-party costs—the ItsEasy passport renewal app (don’t worry, it has a thumbs up from the U.S. government) is free to download, but 1-3 day rush service will cost you $269 in addition to all the other government fees.
Related: What is a Passport Card?
The fee for an expedited passport through a Passport Agency is $60, though you’ll also need to pay for a new passport (if this is your first) or a passport renewal (when a previous passport has expired).
If you’re not able to reach a Passport Agency, give the National Passport Information Center a ring. Just note that representatives are only available during business hours on weekdays, with limited service on Saturdays.
Passports that are lost or stolen while abroad can be replaced at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Come armed with a passport photo for the speediest assistance. You’re likely to receive a limited-validity, emergency passport in this situation. Upon your return, return your emergency passport to receive a legitimate passport book.
Our advice? Even if you don’t have international travel plans on the books, having a valid passport on hand (with three to six effective months on either end) is always your safest bet.
Melanie Lieberman is the Assistant Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @melanietaryn.