Imagine this. You get a surprise trip to London for your birthday. You leave in a week. Fast forward a few days, you’re starting to get your bags packed. You come across your passport. “Let’s look at how bad my picture is,” you think as you flip through pages of stamps from previous travels.
Date of Expiration: 27 March 2018
Your flight is in 72 hours.
I’m sure you can imagine the panic that ensued. I was preparing myself for the possibility that I would not be flying to London this week. With plenty of research, sketchy websites, useless phone calls, and disappointing office visits within an hour or two, we found that physically going to an official government passport agency would be my best bet to renewing my passport by the time we had to leave. So that night, my step dad and I drove all the way to LA, slept for a couple hours, woke up at 5 A.M. to wait in line outside of this government building and hope I would be able to get my passport in time.
For those of you who have a passport, you know it’s usually a long process. You don’t get it for at least a month or more. You’d be surprised how many people need it on short notice, such as myself, and how easy it actually is. However, you can’t just get it within a day or two just because. You need an emergency. The fact that having travel plans in two days and simply forgetting to check the expiration date until right before justifies as an emergency had me VERY thankful.
I submitted my paperwork at 8 A.M. and had my passport in hand by 4 P.M. Had a great excuse to check out Santa Monica Pier in between, too!
If this ever happens to you:
1. Look up the nearest passport agency. They are usually in major cities. Find their official website for instructions and hours of operation.
2. Gather your needed documents. You’ll need an I.D., previous passport (if renewing), a completed DS-82 (renewing) or DS-11 (new) passport application, proof of citizenship (old passport or birth certificate works), social security card, proof of emergency or travel itinerary, and anything else specific that your case calls for.
3. Arrive early. There is a line. Don’t be discouraged. Everyone is there for the same, if not, similar things. They should separate you into lines based on urgency but they were extremely kind and helpful (at least in LA). You want to get there early to have a better chance of either getting an appointment or getting help because if you wait, they may fill up for the day.
4. Have a backup. There’s a possibility you won’t be helped until tomorrow. If it’s four or more days, they may tell you to just come back when it’s sooner. Book a place to stay accordingly.
Almost exactly 72 hours ago I found my expired passport. Now I’m writing this post while waiting at the gate for my plane to board. Funny how things work out.
Here’s my biggest piece of advice:
TAKE NOTE OF YOUR PASSPORT’S EXPIRATION AND SET A NOTIFICATION AT LEAST SIX MONTHS IN ADVANCE. Do as I say, not as I do.
Safe travels, friends. 😉