The Fastest Way to Get a Passport: Expedite Passport

Replacing a passport can, like all bureaucratic processes, feel overwhelming even under normal circumstances. It is easy to imagine how stressful it can become when you must obtain a U.S. passport in record time due to an emergency that requires you to make travel arrangements fast.

Fortunately, the American government offers a rush service for those who need to expedite the passport issuance for genuine and proven reasons. Keep reading to find out how to renew or replace your passport fast.

Expediting a Passport: What Rush Service Should You Use?

The speed at which your passport card or book will be issued depends on your specific circumstances. Choosing the right expedited service is essential to avoid rejections and delays.

Here is how to pick the right one:

  • If you are in a life-or-death emergency and you need to travel now: Life-or-Death Emergency Service (your U.S. passport will be issued within 72 hours)
  • If you have urgent travel plans that require you to leave within the next few days: 3-Day Expedited Service in person at an Agency or Center (your U.S. passport will be issued within 72 hours)
  • If you plan to leave within the next 4 to 10 weeks: Expedited Service in person at an acceptance facility or via mail (your U.S. passport will be issued within 4-6 weeks)
  • If you are traveling in longer than 10 weeks: Routine Service in person or via mail (your U.S. passport will be issued within 10-12 weeks)

What is a life-or-death emergency for passport renewal?

Sometimes, even the most organized travelers find themselves having to obtain a passport overnight due to unforeseen urgent circumstances.

This can be done in a life-or-death-emergency situation. Here are some examples:

  • Serious illness, injury, or other medical emergency of a close family member (parent, legal guardian, grandparent, sibling, child, spouse)
  • Death of a close family member

You must provide proof of the emergency together with the rest of your supporting documentation. The documents must be written or translated into English. Find below examples of proof of emergency:

  • Death certificate
  • Statement from a mortuary
  • Signed letter from a hospital or medical facility

You should get in touch with a passport agency by phone (or contact your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if you are abroad) in order to book your passport application appointment.

Can I Expedite My Passport via Mail?

If you are applying for your first passport, whether you wish to expedite the process or not, you will need to request your document in person. You will also need to provide relevant identification and citizenship documents for first-time applicants, like a certified birth certificate.

But even for those who need to renew it, things are not as easy as having their old passport number at hand, and many will need to visit an office.

In order to renew a U.S. passport via mail, you must physically possess the passport, which must also be:

  • Undamaged (except for normal wear and tear)
  • Issued when you were at least 16 years of age
  • Issued within the last 15 years
  • Issued with your current name, or you can document your name change (for example, in case of marriage)

If your document does not satisfy all the above requirements, you will need to apply in person.

How to fast-track your mail passport renewal

If your passport meets the requirements and you wish to travel within the next 4 to 10 weeks, you may expedite the renewal via mail. To do so, you must:

  1. Fill out a DS-82 form and print it out
  2. Include the $60 expedite fee, your most recent passport, and a photograph in the envelope
  3. Prepare the envelope for shipping and clearly mark “EXPEDITE” on the outside
  4. Send your envelope to the National Passport Processing Center

You can choose express delivery and include the relevant fee in your envelope.

How to Expedite Your Passport Application in Person

For 72-hour urgent travel needs, applicants can take advantage of a limited number of dedicated appointment slots available at the National Passport Information Center. You can book a slot online or with a phone call.

At the appointment, you must have with you:

  • Printed proof of international travel within 72 hours (i.e. flight tickets, hotel reservations, etc.)
  • A recent photograph
  • The $60 expedite fee as well as the regular application fee

4-6 weeks expedite passport at an acceptance facility

If the expected departure date is within 4-10 weeks, you may apply for an expedited passport at an acceptance facility.

In this case, you will need:

  • A completed DS-11 form
  • A photo ID
  • Citizenship documents such as your birth certificate (if applicable)
  • A recent photograph
  • The $60 expedite fee as well as the normal application fee

For 4-6 week processing, you will not need to provide a reason and supporting documents to justify the expedited service.

Contact the facility beforehand to find out whether an appointment is necessary.

Read more: How long it takes to process my Birth Certificate?