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How can I make sure my passport arrives before I travel?

Airfare Question of the Month
by , SmarterTravel Staff
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U.S. passport (Photo: Index Open)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on July 12, 2007. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, Airfare Question of the Month, frequent flyer, government regulation, Jessica Labrencis, passport.

Dear Jessica,

I submitted my passport application in May for an August trip, but haven't received my new passport yet. Is there anything I can do to ensure I get it before I travel?

--D.F.

Dear D.F.,

If you're flying to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, or the Caribbean, you're in luck. In June, the Department of State temporarily relaxed requirements for those destinations due to the backlog in passport processing. Through September 30, you need only show government-issued photo ID and official proof of application.

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But, if you're flying elsewhere in the world, you'll still need to have your passport in hand. You can check the status of your application online, but unfortunately there isn't much else you can do to hurry along the process until just before departure. If you're traveling within two weeks, fill out the National Passport Information Center's electronic form to explain your situation and request expedited handling of your passport. If your travel is within seven days, call the Information Center at 877-487-2778 to make emergency arrangements.

You can make an appointment with a passport agency if your departure date is within 14 days. Only 14 of these agencies are open to the public; they're located in Boston; Chicago; Honolulu; Houston; Los Angeles; Miami; New Orleans; New York City; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; Aurora, Colorado; and Norwalk, Connecticut.

Alternatively, you can try contacting your congressperson's office for assistance if your trip is within two weeks. Your congressperson (or someone in his or her office) can locate your passport application and request expedited service.

 
 
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