Passport Problem?
February 21, 2007 2:24 PM   Subscribe

I want to leave on an overseas trip exactly two weeks from tomorrow. I've never had a passport before. If I go to the post office and get expedited two-week service, will I have my passport in time?

I've seen the expedited agencies online but I'm traveling on the ultra-cheap, and I (really, honestly) can't afford to pay an agency another $100 to guarantee service within 7-8 days - it's either use the P.O.'s service or don't go at all. Can someone (preferably, someone with inside knowledge, or direct recent experience) speak as to whether I will get my passport within 2 weeks if I apply tomorrow? This is in Chapel Hill, NC.

Many thanks.
posted by btkuhn to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're going on a non-refundable ticket and you're relying on the USPS I'd say that it's a pretty big gamble. I wouldn't risk it.
posted by FlamingBore at 2:29 PM on February 21, 2007

Can you go to one of these Passport Agencies in person to get your passport?
posted by tastybrains at 2:31 PM on February 21, 2007

Have you investigated going to your Regional Passport office? They will give you a passport on the same day. There's one in Washington, DC. This is the service that the expedite agencies are using.
posted by muddgirl at 2:33 PM on February 21, 2007

I would trust the USPS for its delivery times, but I would not trust the State Dept. for a two week turnaround. If $100 in extra fees is going to make or break your trip, you might want to reevaluate your travel plans.
posted by nathan_teske at 2:35 PM on February 21, 2007

I recently had to get a passport for travel on the same day. The only way to do this was to visit one of the passport agencies in tastybrains' link, in which case I think your best bet is to drive the 234 miles to the office in Washington DC.

See the info in this link. And remember that you must make a phone appointment first, and you must bring proof of departure date!
posted by googly at 2:40 PM on February 21, 2007

I just applied for my first passport, with the expedited USPS service. My letter (which would have had my passport, had my photos been acceptable) came exactly 13 days after I applied.
posted by sharkweek at 2:44 PM on February 21, 2007

In every case where I've gotten a US passport (three times) it has been later than they said it would be. Sometimes only a couple days, once two weeks. If your window is that narrow, go in person. Triple-check the requirements of what you need to bring with you -- eg bring your plane ticket.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:50 PM on February 21, 2007

My expediated passport came in january of this year took 15-18 days I believe. YMMW of course.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:52 PM on February 21, 2007

You can do it faster if you're willing to pay. My dad used to work for a passport expediting company, ABriggs, and they will overnight your paperwork to DC and hand deliver it to the passport office to make the whole process faster. Of course you pay all the government expedited costs and you pay the company's costs, so if you go this route, expect something like $250, is my guess. There are a lot of other companies that do this as well and they provide all the relevant information on their websites.
posted by pithy comment at 3:09 PM on February 21, 2007

Sorry, I should have specified: I have neither the time nor money to make a trip to Washington before then, so that option is off the table as well. Things are not sounding good for my trip...
posted by btkuhn at 3:11 PM on February 21, 2007

No they're not. Typically the passport is the first thing you have in place for international travel. But all is not lost!

Hopefully you're able to get refunds on all the tickets you've bought. If not, check and see what you can do for re-booking flights, etc, a few weeks further along. That will cost you some money for changing it, but it'll save the trip.
posted by Salmonberry at 3:18 PM on February 21, 2007

My husband had to use the expedited service, and his passport came in 8 days. But...and it's a big but...with all of the passports now required for travel to Mexico and Canada, the passport office is doing quite a lot of business right now.
posted by clarkstonian at 3:19 PM on February 21, 2007

Well, according to this page your passport will probably be processed in South Carolina, although I don't know how much that'll speed everything up compared to people who live farther away from the processing center.

If you really truly can't make a day trip to DC, and you really truly can afford to gamble away an international plane ticket (but can't afford $100 for expedited service), then it sounds like just testing your luck is the way to go.
posted by muddgirl at 3:23 PM on February 21, 2007

I think you should reevaluate how much you want to go on the trip, and then get it together to go to the passport office or pay private expediters. I would not rely on the post office's service.
posted by dame at 3:23 PM on February 21, 2007

I went to the post office and ordered expedited service; they said it would take 15 business days. That was three and a half weeks ago. I called today to check on the status of my application (am leaving next Friday) and they told me my passport was being processed in New Orleans and I should expect to receive it in about three more days (assuming business days).

Don't know much about it but that's my personal, very recent experience.
posted by sauris at 3:30 PM on February 21, 2007

You don't say where you are planning to travel, but are you certain you don't need a visa? If you need a visa you'll have to allow for time for the consulate of your destination country to process your visa application. You may well not need it, of course, but it's worth confirming that.
posted by ambrosia at 3:47 PM on February 21, 2007

Just another data point: I submitted my passport application via Priority (not overnight) mail on January 26 of this year. I paid the $60 expediting fee, but I did not pay the extra $14 for overnight return delivery. I received my passport on February 7, 12 days (8 business days) later, also via Priority Mail. I am in Seattle, and the passport application was processed in Philadelphia, I think.
posted by hades at 4:01 PM on February 21, 2007

I paid for expedited processing and overnight delivery and it still took longer than 14 days to get my passport. And this was in New York City, less than 100 miles from at least two passport agencies.
posted by chickletworks at 4:09 PM on February 21, 2007

Another thought: you may as well put in the application (if nothing else, it'll prevent this from happening sometime in the next ten years) and then track your application. If it seems that your passport won't arrive in time, you could always cancel your reservations before the deadline for doing so.
posted by chickletworks at 4:11 PM on February 21, 2007

Have to agree with others re: going to one of the passport offices. I used their expedited service a few years ago before a trip to Fiji, and got my passport in 2 days. If the trip is important, find a way to make the time.

On a side note, that may have been my only pleasant experience with a government agency. They were polite, well informed and exceedingly helpful. The DMV could learn a thing or two.
posted by JaredSeth at 4:23 PM on February 21, 2007

I procrastinated getting my passport and used an expeditor. It was worth every penny. You're saying that you won't lose more than $100 if you have to cancel your trip?
posted by clh at 4:57 PM on February 21, 2007

Your local member of congress has staff who should know how to get in touch with your regional passport office to get an estimated time for turnaround and even get your expedition an extra boost of speed if you're truly hurting for time. Call him/her and see what they're willing to do. They are occasionally useful.
posted by jaysus chris at 9:19 PM on February 21, 2007

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