How To Request Priority Passports - Required Documentation And Fees

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Whether you are a frequent traveler, or are going outside the United States for the first time, it is important that you understand what travel documents are required for your trip. At the top of the list should be a passport.

It is needed for entry into many countries of the world, and more importantly, is required for return to the U.S. upon the conclusion of your trip. If you didn't understand the importance of this document, and your trip is fast approaching, you might find it necessary to apply for an overnight passport.

When applying for an initial passport, or to replace one more than 15 years old, the applicant must present himself to an agent to begin the process. Most towns and cities will have an acceptance facility, located either at one of the city government offices or in the post office, where this application process is initiated. Prior to appearing, it is important to understand all of the application requirements so that any essential documents can be obtained in advance. Be sure to read about the acceptable identification papers on the website of the issuing agency in order to be fully prepared.

If the individual already has a passport, but it is going to expire within approximately six months, it might be necessary to renew it prior to traveling. Depending on the country to be visited, there could be a requirement that the traveler's documents be valid for a period of three to six months beyond the expected departure date. In this situation, the renewal application can be completed through the mail, as the individual already has an established record on file with the issuing agency.

Knowing that you have limited time in which to procure your urgent American passport, you should understand the three basic ways in which you can accelerate the application procedures. The first two are accomplished by dealing directly with the issuing agency, but in very different ways. The third method involves securing the services of a private company that specializes in providing this type of service.

The easiest choice is to check a box on the application form requesting expedited service. This can be done whether applying at a facility or through the mail. There is an extra fee of $60 for this service, which basically allows the application to move to the top of the pile for processing. As a general guideline, using this option will shorten the total time by about one half. The traveler can see if this option will be sufficient by checking the published processing times on their website.

Sometimes when dealing with a passport agency, you may find that your departure date is sooner than the time it takes to get priority service. If this happens, you can ask for an appointment to visit a Regional Agency Office, where you directly hand your application and documents to the agent, pay all fees, including the extra $60, and prove that you indeed have a departure date this is very near. In this case you can receive your documents more quickly. This option is not always easily available for some travelers since these regional offices are geographically based and there might not be one very close to where you live.

If you have ruled out doing it yourself through the issuing agency, the next option to consider in hiring a company to act as your agent in this matter. The specialty of these companies is fast acquisition of travel documents for their clients. Some promote themselves as being able to get your documents in a range of one day to two weeks.

As you can imagine, the more immediate your need, the higher your fee to the company will be. Please keep in mind that using one of these expediting services will not free you from the responsibility of completing the application and all other paperwork that must be submitted. The only part that changes is that you present your documents to this company and they act as your agent in walking them through to completion.

The key point to remember is that no matter your document situation, there are options to assist you in applying for, and securing, an rush passport. Do not let the trip of a lifetime pass you by for fear that you can't get your urgent U S passport in time. If you do your homework and evaluate your options, you can find a way to get it done in time.

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