Before you plan a trip, make sure your passport is in order. If you have to expedite it in person, here are some tips to make it go as smoothly as possible.
Spring Break is almost upon us, and with it may come international travel. If you find yourself a little too close for comfort on your passport's expiration date, you may need to go to the passport office to get things squared away.
Who needs to go to the passport office in person?
If you do not have a valid passport or you need to change your name on your passport, you must go to a passport office in person if you are going overseas within the next three weeks. Keep in mind, you will be asked to provide proof of travel such as an official itinerary from the airline.
Where is the nearest passport office?
Check the Passport Agency website for a full listing of offices by state. If you live in the DMV, you will have to go to the Washington, D.C., office, which serves all of D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
How do I get my passport renewed in person?
First off, make an appointment online. There is a telephone option, but doing it online ensures an email confirmation and a way to doublecheck your information. You will have the option of going any time between 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. TAKE AN 8 A.M. APPOINTMENT. The morning appointments and problem appointments start to stack up, and the agency will be full before 9 a.m.
If you're going to the D.C. office, get there before 7:45 a.m. to find parking. There is a ton of street parking, but you'll have to parallel-park and download the parking app to pay with a credit card. There is also a pay garage nearby.
Regardless of the appointment time you have, the office opens at 8 a.m., and they start letting people in that early. There are two check-in areas and a security line so it's kind of like a DMV in that way. Bring everything you need and some form of entertainment. You can text, but you aren't allowed to talk on your cell phone.
When do I get my passport?
Depending on when you are leaving the country, they may mail you the new passport or ask you to come back to pick it up between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. The doors close promptly at 3:00, and you're out of luck if you're on the other side.
One thing I learned is that if you come back at 2 p.m., you still have to wait until the passports are produced. In my case, I didn't get out of the office until after 3:30 p.m. The poor guy next to me had driven up from Virginia Beach and was still waiting after I left (he'd had a 10 a.m. appointment).
How does this affect me?
Bottom line, all of this is avoidable if you keep on top of your passport expiration date. They're good for 10 years, so it makes sense that it might not be the first thing we think about. You'll need it for any international travel, including disembarking during a cruise or even just driving to Canada for a day trip.
If you do need to renew your passport in person, remember these tips and pack your patience. You're going to need it!
Have you had to expedite your passport in person? Do you have any tips? Let us know in the comments below!