4 tips to get your child’s passport renewed in 1 week
My son’s first U.S. passport was issued when he was about 2 months old. He couldn’t sit up yet. In his passport photo, he looked like a little potato (don’t get me wrong, he was a cute potato), head akimbo, slouched over a bit.
Five years later and his passport expired. Opportunity for an updated passport photo that resembles the boy that he is now – hurray!
What I hadn’t expected was how involved the process is to renew your U.S. passport for minors under the age of 16. Yes, I went through it the first time in applying but clearly it’s something that can be forgotten by the time the passport expires.
Unlike adults who can mail off their passport for renewal, minors have a more hoops to jump through. Minors and both of their parents must reapply in person at an acceptance agency. You must bring in your child’s old passport, as well as the child’s birth certificate and passport photo (some agencies can take photos on the spot for an additional fee, but we just got ours taken at Walgreens!). Form DS-11 can be filled out ahead of time, but not signed until an agent can witness your signatures. After all of this rigamaroll, the agency still must mail out your passport to be processed, which takes four to six weeks.
Four to six weeks?! Whaaa? Well, here are my top five tips for getting your child’s passport issued/renewed pronto:
1. Cut through some of the red tape by making an appointment at a passport agency. There are 26 passport agencies in the U.S. — these are places where passports can be issued on the premises.
2. If there isn’t a passport agency close to you, try to work it into other travel plans. We had plans to visit San Diego two weeks ago for a long weekend and discovered that San Diego has a passport agency. I called 1-877-487-2778 (which is the 24 hour automated appointment system for booking at any of the passport agencies) and booked an appointment at the San Diego Passport Agency. You can specify the exact day that you would like to book an appointment at the agency. Note that the pound symbol (#) is the key for skipping through appointment times (available times are announced in chronological order). When your appointment is booked, they will give you an appointment confirmation number, which you will need when checking in to verify your appointment.
3. Be on time. You won’t be admitted 15 minutes earlier than your appointment time or 15 minutes later than your appointment time. If you’re planning to fill out the DS-11 form when you get there, make sure that you arrive a little early (but not too early!)
4. Bring a checkbook (although our agency also accepted credit cards). For a $60 expedite fee on top of the $105 application and execution fees for minors, you can meet with a passport agent, drop off your passport documentation and pick it up in five business days. In our case, we dropped the passport off on a Friday (the appointment took about 45 minutes – most of that time was spent waiting for our number to be called) and received it in the mail exactly 1 week later. For those with immediate travel plans and a need for a passport or passport renewal, make sure to bring your proof of immediate travel (copy of airline tickets, etc.) for verification.
We found that the Passport Agency staff were helpful and the turnaround time couldn’t be beat. Even better, it virtually eliminates the usual anxiety of wondering if the passport got lost in the mail, if it will arrive in time for your trip, and so on and so forth!
For more information about passport issues, visit http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html.