My experience with the Department of the State: Passport Services

US Passport

I’m taking a short trip to France next month, and with all the planning I’m doing, I’m getting very excited about the trip! I purchased my plane tickets, made arrangements for an apartment, and am getting organized for my 12 day trip to my favorite place on earth.

Then an alarm went off in my mind – I realized my passport had expired in May of this year. I quickly went on-line to the Department of State (http://travel.state.gov/) to find out what I needed to do to renew my passport – and quickly! 

On the website, I found that if I was leaving within 2 weeks I could make an appointment and go into the passport office and get everything taken care of that day. Unfortunately, I was leaving in 6 weeks. The turn around time stated on the website for renews was 6-8 week. UGH!  Then I noticed the option for expediting the process. For an additional $60, plus the overnight mail charges (both ways) I could get this taken care of within 2-4 weeks.  That would surely be enough time…right?

I completed the paperwork on-line and printed a nice clean copy. I went to Walgreen’s to have my passport photo taken. Then I took everything down to the post office to send off for overnight delivery.

A very helpful clerk at the post office the told me the exact amount I would need to make my check out for (to the the Passport Agency) to cover the return overnight service, plus the expedited fee and renewal fee. I wrote the check and placed it into the envelope with my expired passport, and the completed and signed application with my photo, and sealed it. The clerk placed “expedite” stickers on both sides of the envelope and sent it off into the great U.S.P.S. system.

I held my breath. Would my plans be thwarted due to my bad planning?

Well, these days you can go to the website and track the progress of the renewal. So a couple of days after I sent it – I did just that. I entered my name, social security number, and email address and a screen popped up telling me that they had received my Renewal Application, that it was marked “expedite” and that they were processing it now. The processing time would be 2-3 weeks, door to door. This was reassuring news! I put a note on my calendar to check back in at the end of next week.

Well, that was on Monday (September 12th) and today when I got into the office there was an email waiting in my in box stating that my passport was complete and had been mailed. Since I paid for the overnight delivery, I expected to receive it tomorrow, but lo and behold it was just delivered to my desk at 10:30 am today!

I started this process on September 7th – today is September 14th. One week ! I am amazed at the swiftness at which the US Government took care of this matter! Thank you – thank you!

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