The great city of Chicago, perched on Lake Michigan, has so much going for it, including skyscrapers like the iconic John Hancock Center, as well as the world-famous Art Institute of Chicago. But when it comes to passport application procedures, Chicago residents have to follow the same federal rules as the rest of the country. If you're in a hurry, never fear. As long as your situation falls within the federal guidelines for a life and death emergency, you can get a passport within 24 hours.

Passport Application Form DS-11

Even for super-quick passports, you'll need to fill out a passport application to start the process. If you've never had a passport before, or the last one you got was issued more than 15 years ago or when you were under 16, you must always use Form DS-11. Generally, to renew a passport you would use Form DS-82 and mail it in. But for urgent service, you'll need to use DS-11. You can download the form from the U.S. State Department's passport website or pick up a paper copy at passport application acceptance facilities around Chicago. Many of these are post offices, so they are good places to check.

Preparing DS-11 and Supporting Documents

Fill out the form with your own identifying information as well as info about your parents and current spouse. The form requests your Social Security number, too. Then you must collect original documents to prove your identity and citizenship. A driver's license or military identification work well for ID, and a certified U.S. birth certificate or naturalization certificate prove citizenship. Alternative options are listed on DS-11 instructions.

You'll also need two passport photos that meet strict guidelines. Your best bet is to just have them taken at a passport acceptance office. If you want to do it yourself, read the requirements carefully. The size is easy, 2 inches square, but the rules specify lighting, as well as specific directions for eyes, smile and headgear, so be careful when taking your own photos.

Proof of Life or Death Emergency

The only way to get a passport within 24 hours in Chicago or anywhere is to ask for emergency passport service and prove that you have a life or death emergency. Having an expiring plane ticket is not sufficient. The state department defines a life or death emergency as: "serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family that require you to travel outside the United States within 72 hours (3 business days)." Hospital or police records, if the injury was due to violence or an accident, or statements from medical personnel can establish a serious illness or injury. A death certificate works to prove a death. Don't forget documents proving your familial connection to the person injured or deceased.

Make an Appointment at a Passport Agency

Next you have to present your case in person to an agent at a Regional Passport Agency. In Chicago, the agency is located at 101 Congress Parkway on the 9th floor. But first make an appointment. You can make an appointment online using the Online Passport Appointment System, or you can call the automated passport agency appointment line at: 1-877-487-2778 or 1-888-874-7793.

On the day of the appointment, take all of your documents and the completed application to the agency and make your case. The agency will do its best to issue a passport within 24 hours. You'll pay the normal passport application fee, around $100, as well as a fee for expediting the process, usually under $100.