From NYC to Canada in less than a week
March 29, 2010 3:13 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to get a U.S. passport in less than a week? If so, how?

So after reading this thread, I know that what I need to do to get my passport within 14 days is to make an appointment at my regional office, buy my plane tickets, fill out form DS-11, bring my I.D. and funds, and be prepared to spend the entire day there.

However, I need to travel to Canada on April 7th for the vigil before my aunt's funeral and the first-available appointment date was April 6th at 12:30 pm (which I took because hey! I'm no fool). However, a co-worker who had to get a passport for her daughter said that what I should do is take about $200.00 with me to the U.S. Post Office first-thing tomorrow morning along with my proof of travel, all my paperwork, etc., and I might be able to get it within a week.

For those of you who have been to the NYC passport office, can you say with any degree of certainty that I'd be able to get a passport on the same day if I wait for the 6th? Or am I better off doing the U.S. Postal Service thing and praying? Or, should I take all my paperwork down to the regional office tomorrow and be prepared to wait all day?

If you can respond fast, that would be great because I'm going to have to make a decision on whether or not I can even attend the funeral soon. (Not to mention fighting with my boss to get the time off.... oy... that's a question for another AskMe post.)
posted by TrishaLynn to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How about passport expediting services?
posted by futureisunwritten at 3:19 PM on March 29, 2010

Have not been to the NY office but the one in Boston would do next day for a fee. (that was post 9/11). Basically get to the office early with all materials and checks/cash. They may need a confirmed flight. A web print out was sufficient for us. Good luck.
posted by sammyo at 3:23 PM on March 29, 2010

I got a passport in 72 hours from a passport expediting service. They had me go to the post office with my photos and have the person their certify I'm who I am and they gave me back my application in a sealed envelope. I fedexed that application to the address they gave me (they have you fedex to their office in the city with the shortest line so even though I was closest to the Houston office, I overnighted it to their San Francisco office). I sent it off on a Monday and had the passport on a Wednesday. I can't remember the service I used since I was through my office but it sure the hell beat taking a chance and standing in line all day. I can't remember what it cost exta in addition to the fees the government wants, but it was definitely cheaper than an unpaid day off of work to stand in line all day.
posted by birdherder at 3:25 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This comment seems like it's the most relevant to me and my comfort levels in letting other people handle my paperwork.
posted by TrishaLynn at 3:36 PM on March 29, 2010

About two years ago, my mother was able to toddle on down to the State Department and get a new passport on the same day. This was a replacement for an existing passport, though, not a new application. Can you get down to DC for the day?
posted by peachfuzz at 3:39 PM on March 29, 2010

It wasn't cheap, but Mr. Adams got a passport in 72 hours from an expediting service I chose from several listed in the Yellow Pages. I'd won a radio contest for a trip for two to England, and Mr. Adams didn't have a passport (I stretched the truth when I was the correct caller - one of the provisos was you had to have a valid passport). Anyway, we got his photos taken at Kinkos and FedEx'd the application and money order at the same time. Passport received two business days later, no prob. If you're driving to Canada from New York (or taking the train), a photo ID and a copy of your birth certificate might be sufficient to get you across the border. (To be honest, even after the passport law went into effect, 4 out of 5 times when I drive from Detroit to Windsor and back I'm not asked for any sort of identification.)
posted by Oriole Adams at 3:40 PM on March 29, 2010

Or, should I take all my paperwork down to the regional office tomorrow and be prepared to wait all day?

This is what I would do. Looks like you need an appointment for NYC, though.
posted by rhizome at 3:42 PM on March 29, 2010

I've gotten a same-day passport from the LA office (with proof that I needed it that fast to catch a flight), and someone else I know got his the next day, which I believe is typical for the in-person appointments. Also, you might try calling the appointment phone number again occasionally to check if their earliest available appointment has changed - they sometimes have cancellations. When I was at the LA office, they wouldn't even let you into the building without an appointment, so I don't know if the NY office has laxer policies about walk-ins.

I haven't used passport expediting services, but as others have said they could probably help - I've used such things for last minute visas with good results.

According to the State Dept. website, the processing time for expedited passport applications by mail is 2-3 weeks, so the mail in thing seems very risky to me.
posted by unsub at 3:47 PM on March 29, 2010

I got a passport in 3 hours at the State Dept. office in Boston (no joke: 1pm appointment, 4pm pickup). You need to make an appointment, which you can do by phone. If you don't live near a State Dept. office then you either need to drive or use an expediting service, which I know much less about. At least in Boston, the office is unbelievably friendly and helpful, and particularly good at dealing with a steady stream of people freaking out about their passport troubles.

Because they are capable of such quick turnaround, they have a much more frightening definition of "last minute" than you or I would (eg, "Oh, you have TWO days until your flight? That's not an emergency, call tomorrow if the passport you're waiting for in the mail still hasn't arrived"). When I was there I stood in line with folks from New York and New Jersey who couldn't get an appointment closer to home, so be prepared to shop around.
posted by range at 3:58 PM on March 29, 2010

Sorry if this is off-topic. In my state, and it looks like in yours you can get an Enhanced ID which will work for land crossings, driving or train, to Canada, Mexico and a few other places. I have one from Vermont, I just had to bring a lot of documents to the DMV and trade in my driver's license for it and pay some money. It works at the border. The big deal in your case may be that they'll give you some dopey piece of paper before your EDL [or non-driver's license ID] gets mailed to you (2 weeks?) which might make the border people give you a hard time. Call and ask, it might save you some money and headache.
posted by jessamyn at 4:01 PM on March 29, 2010

I would use a passport expediting service - I've worked with one before, and they are easy and will allow you to relax and not worry about it. I would find the other options far too stressful at what must already be a difficult time.
posted by insectosaurus at 4:04 PM on March 29, 2010

Isn't this something that your congressman could help you with? Or people working in his office?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:31 PM on March 29, 2010

Chicago: I had 3 hour turnaround for a renewal from my appointment, so I'd say "likely".

If you're concerned, I'll second all the expediting services. Some of my coworkers have used them, and I haven't heard any bad experiences.

So I would either use an expediting service or wait for your appointment, I would not do the post office.
posted by true at 4:46 PM on March 29, 2010

I paid the extra to get my son's passport promptly, and was never able to contact the passport office to make an appt. to go get it in person. My congressperson's office got the appointment done for me, then my son went to Boston to get it. So, call your congressional rep. Then send them a nice postcard from wherever.
posted by theora55 at 4:48 PM on March 29, 2010

If you drive you can use an enhanced driver's license. See this link.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:41 PM on March 29, 2010

On preview, what Jessamyn said
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:42 PM on March 29, 2010

Also see this question I asked.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:01 PM on March 29, 2010

Seconding the Passport Office solution and agreeing with the timeline of 3 hours from appointment to pickup. The hardest part is getting an appointment - I'd call their automated number (877-487-2778) as soon as possible to find out when the next appointment is.
posted by squorch at 6:12 PM on March 29, 2010

Isn't this something that your congressman could help you with? Or people working in his office?

As someone who has worked in such an office, I'd say probably not. If you'd encountered some kind of problem along the way, it's an excellent way to escalate the issue. In this specific instance, they could tell you where to call for an appointment...
posted by the christopher hundreds at 7:22 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I overnighted my application from a US Post Office and had it back in about a week. This was about three weeks ago. They took the picture there too. I think I paid extra to have it expedited. Be sure you have a full birth certificate with you.
posted by tamitang at 9:15 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I went to the passport office in Chicago last summer to get a replacement passport and was able to get it the same day. Here's what you need to bring, and you also need proof of travel within 14 days. Get there as early as you can - sometimes you can get in earlier than your appointment.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:35 PM on March 29, 2010

If you're in NYC, go to the Hudson street office, tons of ID, and the ticket for your impending departing flight. When I did that my expired passport was a little beat up so the lady denied me, I went home and ironed each page, came back the next day (made sure not to get the same clerk) and walked out that day with my new passport.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:28 AM on March 30, 2010

Response by poster: I tried posting earlier, but for some reason, couldn't do so at work. Anyway, it was decided between my sister and I that we would not attend the funeral but go up and see our cousins a few months afterwards when they'd need additional support. Now, I can go apply for a passport in the normal way.

Thanks everyone!
posted by TrishaLynn at 4:14 AM on March 30, 2010

For future reference, since Trisha doesn't need this info anymore, a few years back I got my passport expedited in 2 days at the Hudson Street office across the street from my work.
posted by JaredSeth at 11:17 AM on March 30, 2010

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