A few weeks ago we applied for my son’s first passport on short notice prior to a trip. Lo and behold it returned less than four weeks later. Here’s how we processed the application.
My Son’s First Passport
My infant son is ready to start seeing the world with us and it was time to get his passport… fast. As this was his first passport, we applied in person at a passport acceptance facility. We were able to make an appointment (including them shooting his photos) with one day’s notice.
When applying for a passport, there are a few different sections applicants fall in. For those who already have a valid passport or within a short window following its expiration, travelers can apply online, in person or renewed by mail. The timeline for our expedited passport from submission to receipt was 27 days total. However, we followed an expensive and specific plan to get him ready for international travel.
This is not the cheapest method, but for those who want to do it themselves, this is the process to beat the quoted expedited passport wait times by double, if not triple the quoted 7-13 weeks. Processing time, which does not include mailing or delivery time, the Department of State advises can add a further 1-2 weeks.
- Scheduling an appointment at an approved passport agency or center.
- In our case it was a separate part of the building on the back of a post office.
- Appointments were available within a few days of completing the application.
- Adding the $15 option to have the passport office take the photos.
- Yes we could take them at home, but we have tried and failed. Taking them at home if not done correctly could delay or cause a rejection of his application.
- We could have taken them slightly cheaper at a CVS or Walgreens, however, this would require sitting and he wasn’t big enough to sit on his own. Holding him upright could be problematic as well.
- The price difference isn’t enough to justify adding a second appointment to the list, just do it at the same time taken by someone who takes them for this one purpose and does so all day every day.
- We checked over the application separately from each other (I filled it out, proofread it, my wife followed suit) and then the passport official did as well. Having it right when we walked in the door was helpful.
- We paid for fast postage with 1-2 day delivery services on both ends of the transaction, the included return envelope sent via tracked mail (we got an alert) and the same quick postage.
- We chose the passport book though they send the passport cards via first class mail and I don’t believe you have another option for that.
- For us (about $28.75 in outbound same day signature verified, and $20 express returned) it was worth it because it told us not only that his passport was issued but that it was on its way back to us. As it’s his first passport, it also has his original birth certificate with it, so knowing where those two items are at all times is well worth the extra $48.75.
- We paid an expediting fee of $60 on top of his youth passport fee of $100 for the passport book.
- This got us to the shorter time frame to start and with the other methods, it ensured a quick return to us.
- We indicated future travel longer than 14 days but shorter than a month out. In fairness, it did not arrive before the date we put on the application for future travel and we were unable to take that trip, but it was a lofty 18-day turn around and unreasonable given the current backlog.
- You can pay by both check or money order, but it could take a couple of days for a check to clear in theory and United States Post Offices sell money orders for less than a dollar. I could have added this to ensure the fastest possible turnaround, but check did not delay it in our experience.
- These options may not be available to you if you’re abroad and using an embassy or consulate to process your passport.
Overall, we were really happy with our turn time and it was well worth the extra money and effort to make sure his documents returned to us quickly and accurately. There are passport services that can beat even this service, but they charge a fee in excess what we were able to do ourselves and it was not for an emergency situation.
What do you think? Have you gotten a passport back that quickly?