Any time is a good time to travel. But, for confirmed travel buffs, the best day to fly to a foreign land is always today. If you’re one of those people who loves to travel, the standard four- to-six-week wait for a passport may seem out of the question. An international ticket purchase can work to your advantage when you’re trying to obtain a passport much more quickly.
If you have dreams of traveling overseas, get a passport early. You’ll not only save yourself anxiety, but also money. Waiting until the last minute puts your trip in jeopardy, and it can cost you a pretty penny to speed up your passport processing.
The normal wait time for a new passport is four to six weeks after you apply in person (with a form DS-11) at a Passport Acceptance Facility. You’ll wait the same amount of time if you apply by mail for a passport renewal (with a form DS-82), but at least you don’t have to make an appointment. You can shorten the wait time to less than four weeks (usually two to three weeks) by paying an extra $60 fee to expedite the processing for either an initial passport or a renewal. No reason or justification is required.
But what if you want a passport really quickly – like in a week or so? If you can prove you are traveling out of the country within two weeks, it’s possible to arrange to get a passport within that time frame.
Getting a Passport Quickly
The U.S. State Department allows a person holding a ticket for foreign travel within two weeks to get an expedited passport much more quickly. This also applies if you have a ticket for foreign travel within four weeks to a country that requires a foreign visa.
To expedite in this manner, you must make an appointment at a passport agency or passport center. The website lists different passport agencies by state. Arrange the appointment by using the Online Passport Appointment System, or call the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778.
You’ll need to use application form DS-11, even if you are renewing a passport. Take the filled-in application form, evidence proving your identity and nationality, a passport photo, and proof of immediate international travel to the appointment. If all goes well, you’ll have your passport in a week or so.
Proof of International Travel
What constitutes proof of immediate international travel? It must be a document containing your name, the date of travel within two weeks of the appointment (or four weeks if you need a visa), and the name of your destination country.
You can bring in a photocopy of the ticket, of course. It must be issued in your name, for a flight within the time frames specified. Or, you can bring an airline itinerary. This is the document the airline provides when you make a reservation over the internet. It contains your name, the date of your flight, the flight number and the destination.
If you’re not flying, but, instead, traveling by car to Canada or Mexico, you can submit a hotel reservation in the foreign country in your name. If you’re traveling on business, get a letter signed by your boss on official company letterhead.