Passport issue
January 3, 2012 6:25 PM   Subscribe

My husband needs a passport in less than two weeks. Help.

We are completely clueless as the only time we have left the country was prior to needing a passport to go to Canada. He is going to Mexico for work, in less than two weeks. On top of needing a brand new passport, we have no clue where his birth certificate is.

What the hell do we do?
posted by SuzySmith to Travel & Transportation around Mexico (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Does he have his old passport? Do you live near a regional passport center? My husband forgot to renew his passport, and we didn't realize it was expired until two days before his flight to Scotland. A morning spent at the passport agency in Chicago was all it took. You can schedule an appointment at the closest regional center and get it taken care of.
posted by booknerd at 6:27 PM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Where do you live? In NYC and other places, you can get a passport in a day if you have impending travel. I had to do this in 2003. It isn't an expedition service, you go to the agency with your passport photos, put in your application, and come back to pick it up a couple hours later. There is an extra fee for this service.
posted by kellyblah at 6:28 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: Getting a passport in a hurry

Current processing times
-If you are Traveling within 14 Days or Need a Passport for a Foreign Visa within 4 Weeks and have not yet applied, see Schedule an Appointment to submit your application at a Passport Agency

Getting your first passport

Secondary evidence of citizenship, if you have no expired passport/birth certificate
If you were born in the United States and cannot present primary evidence of U.S. citizenship because you do not have a previous U.S. passport or a certified U.S. birth certificate of any kind, you must present a state-issued Letter of No Record showing:

Your name
Your date of birth
The years for which a birth record was searched
Acknowledgement that no birth certificate was found on file
posted by jacalata at 6:32 PM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Note, he does not have a prior passport, we traveled to Canada prior to needing a passport for it.

We live a couple hours from DC, if that helps at all.
posted by SuzySmith at 6:41 PM on January 3, 2012

I'm a passport acceptance agent (who's busy accepting a pport application right now). But memail me and I can probably help you figure out what to do tonight. =)
posted by carsonb at 6:43 PM on January 3, 2012 [13 favorites]

Have his company get his passport expedited. This is pretty standard procedure for employees having to travel internationally. At least at large companies it is.

Otherwise, call a passport expediting service yourself and send them the relevant documents. See, for example.
posted by dfriedman at 6:44 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: If your location is accurate, it looks like you're reasonably close to Washington DC. There's a regional passport agency there.

Washington Passport Agency
1111 19th Street, N.W.,
First Floor, Sidewalk Level
Washington, D.C. 20036
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., local time, M-F, excluding Federal holidays
Schedule An Appointment 24/7: 1-877-487-2778

As I recall, in addition to your old passport or birth certificate, etc., you may also need to bring proof that you need your passport quickly.

(when we were moving to Alaska from Pennsylvania and misplaced our passports right before we were leaving and had to stop at the regional passport agency in Seattle to get replacements --- because you can't drive to Alaska without going through Canada --- they refused to give us new passport books, because we didn't have proof that we were going to be in Canada (such as a hotel reservation), despite that we couldn't get from here to there without doing so! So we had to get passport cards instead, which was annoying. )

If you call the reservation like, there is someone you can talk to who will tell you what you need to bring with you, as I recall.
posted by leahwrenn at 6:48 PM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Reservation *line*, that is. Oh for an edit window.
posted by leahwrenn at 6:49 PM on January 3, 2012

Is there any chance your husband's parents still have his birth certificate? Where was your husband born?
posted by carmicha at 7:03 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: Call Rep. Rob Whitman's Tappahannock office at 804-443-0668 and explain the problem. Expediting passports is the bread and butter of constituent service staffers. They exist at that office—the very purpose of their employment—is to help people like you with problems like this. Don't be shy.
posted by waldo at 7:23 PM on January 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

Another option is use a Passport Expediting services. I've done it, and it works great. You fill out some forms on a website, pay a crazy expensive fee ($50 for a few days, $200+ for one day service), and the Expediting folks go down to the State Department on your behalf to get the passport .

I forget exactly which service I used, but Google "expedited passport" to find a list.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:23 PM on January 3, 2012

DC has a passport agency that is amazingly helpful and quick. He'll need to spend a whole day up here getting it taken care of, and it costs a bit more than a typical passport application.
posted by downing street memo at 7:25 PM on January 3, 2012

Where was your husband born? Call up his birth location's equivalent of a hall of records and see what you can do about getting his birth certificate as quickly as possible.

Also, start talking with a company like Travisa right now about getting this all done in a hurry. I'm not sure what "cannot" in "cannot present a birth certificate" means in the context of the secondary evidence of citizenship requirements, but "I need to travel for work and I can't get a birth certificate in time" might qualify. Wrassle up them relevant papers in case this works.

I am not a passport agent or a travel lawyer, blah blah blah.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:27 PM on January 3, 2012

Ok, sorry about that last one. Here's a bit more info:

jacalata provides good links to the State Department website for passports.

First thing you should do is call their customer service line and see if you can schedule an appointment at the Federal Building. If it's reasonably close, that is. There's a cost-benefit analysis to be done here— if it's going to cost you $250 to get down to DC and get into the Federal Building there you might want to consider hiring a courier service (or "passport expediter") to go down there for you. I'm not allowed to recommend a particular service, but you should evaluate them carefully before choosing one. The pricing scheme will be based on how quickly you need the passport. They should outline the required documentation and costs. Be careful googling for this, because

Now, as to the citizenship proof issue. There's a link on the State Department website to the CDC (of all places) that has all of the contact info for the right people to get another birth certificate: Where to Write for Vital Records. But that'll probably take more time than you have.

You can submit, if you have it, secondary evidence of citizenship. You'll want to bring/submit as much as possible.

If that too is not possible, you can always pay the State Department to do a File Search. It costs $150, and they basically go find your birth records for you. As long as you're hiring a courier service and really need the pport, this might be the best option.

I'm out of time at this station, but when I get home I can probably elaborate a bit more. The offer to contact me otherwise stands. =)
posted by carsonb at 7:57 PM on January 3, 2012

...because most of these places just want your money. And lots of it.
posted by carsonb at 7:58 PM on January 3, 2012

I got same-day service on a replacement passport at the passport office in New Orleans. I had realized I couldn't find my passport when packing for a trip out of the country. I showed up at the passport office the next morning and had the new passport in my hands by 5 pm. You don't need to worry about contacting a Congressperson, the procedures for expedited passport issuance are very streamlined. Follow their instructions very carefully. You will need proof of your husband's travel plans (tickets, itinerary, etc.) plus various proofs of identity.
posted by jayder at 8:00 PM on January 3, 2012

Best answer: OK, here's the things that will be required when you visit your local passport application expediter:

- Proof of citizenship (We've covered that for your instance, though, see below)
- File search request, usually hand-written. They should give you instruction on what to write, though it's generally a 'To Whom It May Concern - I cannot locate my official citizenship documents, please perform a File Search on my behalf' sort of thing.
- Photo ID
- A picture to these specs. (Check to see if your expediting service and/or acceptance facility will be capable of providing these for you on-site. Likely one or the other can.)
- Travel itinerary.
- Forms of payment to the Department of State should be provided, and/or included in your overall fee. (Bring your checkbook, just in case.) Fees paid to the Department of State are (as of the posted date) $110 adult application fee, $60 expedited service fee, and if necessary the $150 File Search fee. If you visit an acceptance facility, that's $25 paid to them.
- Courier authorization forms, 2 copies, signed & dated. Your expediter should have these available to you somehow.
- A completed but not signed DS-11 application.

The expediter/courier will help you fill out your DS-11 application if you visit them before you go to the acceptance facility. Otherwise they may tell you to complete it on your own at home and print it out. Either way, the application must be filled out directly on the State Dept website and printed out with a bar-code in the upper-left corner.

You will then take all that stuff to an acceptance facility hopefully somewhere nearby (library or post office or something like that), have the agent assemble the application, and swear an oath.

You'll be given a sealed package (Don't open it!) that you will likely return to your expediter/courier service. They'll have given you specific directions on what to do after you're done at the acceptance facility.

Then you get your passport in time (hopefully)!
It's been interesting to write this all out from the perspective of a traveler. I'm used to only interacting on the one node of the process. It should be noted for future reference that absolutely the best resource for obtaining a US Passport is the Department of State Travel Website, and that some of the instructions or listed items above may not be required for your own passport application process. Hope it's helpful!
posted by carsonb at 8:55 PM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is the only passport accpetance facility in the city listed in your profile. That's the acceptance facility I mention above that you'll go to if you aren't able to schedule an appointment at the Washington Regional Agency. If you can get an appointment, that link has all the instructions you need.
posted by carsonb at 9:03 PM on January 3, 2012

Response by poster: It looks like his company is going to handle all of it for him, thank goodness as I so didn't want to deal with it. Thanks for all the links though, as I am planning on getting a passport myself prior to the summer as we are going to Canada again.
posted by SuzySmith at 11:17 AM on January 6, 2012

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