How to Expedite your Passport

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Realized right before an out-of-country trip that your passport has expired? I’ve got some tips for you…and a story, of course on how to expedite your passport and get it quickly! (If you are truly in a rush and want to skip the story til later, see my rush tips at the bottom for a passport renewal).

How to expedite Rush your passport renewal

A few weeks ago my husband and I traveled to Mexico for a relaxing couples trip. I can’t wait to tell all about it, but first..the passport story. It’s a bit of a miracle that we actually went, because we only got his passport in our hands 3 hours before we needed to go to the airport. Here is how it all went down.

When my husband was 19, he served a 2 year service mission for our church in France. He got his first passport then, but it had expired in 2006 when he took me back to France, so we got our passports together then. In 2015 when we traveled to Ghana, my passport somehow grew legs and walked away from the safe place we kept them, so I had to get a new one, while he kept his from 2006. So we were off from each others’ passport renewal schedules.

Fast forward to Dec. 2016 when I booked our Mexico trip, I knew we both had passports, because we had just traveled to Ghana the year before…I knew I was good, but I FORGOT his was from 2006…expired in 2016…NOT CURRENT in February 2017 when we were due to travel. For weeks, it still didn’t occur to me, until 7 days before our trip, a flash of random inspiration came to me.

I was reading over some travel tips on a Facebook page I run with my friend, the Family Travel Club. Someone shared a great tip on making a photo copy of your passport to give to a friend or family member NOT traveling, and I thought…hmm…great idea.

Then…it dawned on me…


I had this sick feeling as I ran to the safe place we keep important documents, but I already knew the answer before I found it. My husbands passport expired in March 2016. I was heartbroken. I thought there was NO WAY we would get it in time. After a 2 minute cry fest, I decided to take to the internet to JUST SEE if there was another option.

Upon a quick google search, I saw that if we shelled out a few hundred dollars, a few sites claimed to be able to get it to us in 48 hours. I thought…well heck, I’ve got a whole week, apparently I’ve got plenty of time! I was willing to pay the money, but I looked a little further.

If you live in a city where there is a passport office (only 27 in the country) then you are in pretty good shape. You can get it expedited on your own, but maybe not in 48 hours. That’s crossing all fingers and toes and arms, etc.

What the expensive rush service does is act as a courier for you. They have nothing to do with the actual government agency that signs and seals the passports.

I got most of my info from the National Passport Information Center.

My brother and his wife live in Houston, and they were willing to act as my courier for me, (and I COULD have driven 3 hours if I really needed to) and when I called the national passport information center hotline, the person on the other end of the phone assured me that I had PLENTY of time.  What I didn’t realize until about 5 different calls (and people) later is that it was a call center that wasn’t actually an official passport agency, and they nor I could actually speak on the phone to the people assembling the passport. I didn’t find that out until day 5. Oh, I was so naive back then.

So this is how it all went down:

Thursday: 2pm discover the passport was expired, 2 hours of internet research, frantic call to husband to stop and get passport photo, 6pm run to UPS store to overnight ($30) info to brothers house

Friday: 11am Overnight package arrives at brothers house, confirmed via text photo, no real rush to get it downtown b/c they said Monday is plenty of time

Saturday:  Nothing, because it’s the weekend

Sunday: Nothing, because it’s the weekend

Monday: 11 sister in law has appointment at Houston Passport Agency, they assure her it can be finished and mailed overnight to us by the end of the day

Tuesday:  Watching and waiting for our overnight delivery, 5pm place a call to what we find out is just a stinkin’ call center that has no real connection to Passport Agency, our case is “Pending” which means it hasn’t shipped, call center puts a NOTE by our info to alert agent

Wednesday:  Our case is STILL pending, and I’ve lost 99% hope, with no way to actually find out where we are in the process, 1:30 call from Robyn with his paperwork in front of her, she says 100% we will not have passport by 8am the next morning

Thursday: 7am passport arrives via FedEx overnight, 10 depart for airport 1pm fly to Mexico


Now, let me elaborate on Wednesday, that was the HIGH STRESS day! When my sis-in-law went on Monday, whomever she spoke with assured her it could be done that day and mailed out by the end of the day. We’d get it by end of day Tuesday with plenty of time! Well, that turned out to be a lie. Who would lie like that?!?

When we called Monday afternoon to find out the status, and spoke to our 6th or 7th representative, we realized we were not speaking to US passport attendants, as we had presumed before. Just people answering phones on behalf of them. Different people had different tips or suggestions, and eventually one of them said, “I can’t get ahold of them, but I can send them an email that will alert them to your cases urgency.”

Well…better than nothing.

Tuesday, we waited…nothing.

Wednesday was stress day. But I never gave up home! I was running errands to try to get my mind off of it when my friend Jessica (whom we were traveling with) FaceTimed me from the airport (they went out a day ahead of us) and said, “I’m so excited to see you in Mexico tomorrow!”

Luckily, being in a store, the FaceTime didn’t show my face, because it did not feel hopeful. I hadn’t told our friends about the passport debacle, because I was SURE everything would be ok! Didn’t want to unnecessarily worry them.

I left the store to drive home and I felt sick. I should just tell our friend it’s probably not going to happen because we have no passport! I was going to call her when I got home…

But on that 10 minute drive home, I got another call from an un-known number in HOUSTON!!!!

I answered and it was Robyn, and she was the agent working on our case, and SHE HAD MY HUSBANDS PASSPORT INFO IN FRONT OF HER, AND SHE WAS GOING TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN FOR US!!!

My excitement quickly turned to sadness when she informed me that she could not tell me anything because my husband did not give approval of her sharing his info with me.

UGH! Privacy rules! Didn’t she know that I filled out all that info, put it all together, did everything but sit in the picture for it, and she wouldn’t tell me???

She had already tried to get ahold of my husband, but he is VERY hard to speak to during the work day, and luckily my number was put on his form as a backup and she called me (even though she couldn’t tell me anything about his case).

She gave me her direct number, and I was to call my husband (I’ve got an emergency way to get ahold of him) and he was to call her back immediately or send an email saying she could speak to me (seriously, I could have sent that email from his email). Also needed a copy of his license.

Before I hung up with her to call him, I said, “can you please just tell me, is there ANY chance we can have that passport here tomorrow morning by 8am??”

She said in the calmest, unconcerned voice as possible, “no ma’am.”

Incredulously I said, “what? really? So are you saying there is a ZERO PERCENT chance we will have this tomorrow morning?”

To which she once again calmly replied, “yes ma’am.”

{Why did she have to be so calm and disinterested in my pain?!?}

I hung up and cried a little with annoyance and anger all at the same time, and thought, “then why on earth am I bothering him at work???”

I did it anyway…pulled out my emergency call to him, quickly told him the story, the ZERO PERCENT chance and everything, but asked him to email her to give my permission.

Then I waited 5 long minutes to hear back from him…feeling defeated….heartbroken…sick as I think about how to tell our friends.

He called me and apparently came through with a mysterious percent chance of hope if all the stars aligned in the next 1.5 hours.

It was 2pm.

If we could get a representative there to the passport office in Houston by 3:30 to pick up the passport, they could leave with it in their hand. But he had to email her that persons’ name by 2:30.

My sis-in-law went on Monday, but they live roughly 45 minutes away. I knew she had to pick up kids at school at 2:45, and it just wasn’t enough time.

I put in a call to my brother, hoping beyond hope that it was a day he’d be able to step away from his office, which is about 20 minutes away from the passport office.

I called…no answer…he texts and says he’ll call in 5 minutes…patiently waiting…he must be in a meeting…there may not be a chance…10 minutes go by…I send him an emoji nudge to remind him I’m patiently waiting…

he calls…

Me: “Awesome brother of mine….is there ANY way you can get to the Passport office by 3:30 today? If not, it’s totally ok, but you’re basically our only hope.”

Brother: “Actually, this is a great day for it, I can do the rest of my work at home, I can totally go.”


My husband emailed Robyn my brothers name,  I called her to verify all was well, but she didn’t get his email. Then I went into his email (because I can do that as his wife) to find he missed ONE letter and it bounced back.  So I resent it, adding in the part she could talk to me (because he forgot that part).  I should have just done that in the first place!

I spent the next 2 hours frantically pacing my home and texting my brother as he got to the passport office, waited at the office, and walked away with MY HUSBANDS PASSPORT IN HAND!

Holy moly, it was a tense 2 hours.

He dropped it at FedEx paying $60 to overnight to us, to get to our home by 8am the next morning.

We packed…came down from our stress place…assuming FedEx wouldn’t mess this up, and happily we got the passport in OUR hands by 7am, 3 hours to spare!

Whew…that was a lot to type out, but I now have that story document, hopefully entertained a few of you, and maybe gave some tips to others.

It was worth all the pain and suffering because we had an AMAZING trip to Mexico, and I’m so excited to type up all of those details to share, because it was relaxing and just perfect. So grateful it all worked out!  We told our friends the whole story that night in Mexico, about how we almost didn’t make it…crazy!

husband and wife travel

So, if you are in need of a rush passport, here is what you have to have.

How to Expedite your Passport:

  • Print/fill out DS-82 renewal form online
  • send old passport
  • new photo stapled to form
  • $170 check ($110 application fee, $60 rush)
  • Add $15.40 to overnight back (this was refunded to us because my brother picked it up)
  • Authorization letter for the courier (my SIL/brother) saying they are speaking for you
  • proof of travel/copy of trip itinerary showing the need for rush
  • call this hotline to verify this is up-to-date 1-877-487-2778

Shout-out to my awesome brother and his equally excellent wife for helping us out in this situation! I love this family picture I snapped of their brood (more here).

Family Pictures in blue and green clothes

If you’d like to see more of our travel adventures, click on the link to see where we’ve been!

forgot to renew passport


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