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The Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts of Expedited Passport Applications

A man and woman expediting a passport at their laptop with forms and a phone

You need a passport to travel internationally. But sometimes, the time to get your passport processed takes longer than you have. Luckily, there are multiple options for both expediting a new passport and expediting a passport renewal. Whatever your situation, you can get the documents you need so your travel plans don’t have to be put on hold.

If you’re looking to expedite your passport application, it’s essential to know the do’s and don’ts to ensure a smooth and efficient experience. In this guide, we’ll provide you with valuable passport expediting tips based on over 20 years of helping travelers like you navigate the passport application process.

5 Do’s for Successful Expedited Passport Applications

1. DO be Sure to Gather All the Necessary Documents

Before applying for an expedited passport renewal, make sure you have all the required documents ready.

These typically include:

*If applicable

In almost all cases, you will need original copies of the documents listed above. Photocopies are not acceptable.

If you are applying at a regional passport agency, you will also need proof of your imminent travel needs. Without it, you may not qualify for the fastest possible service.

Double-checking you have the correct documents will save you time and potential delays in getting your passport.

2. DO Complete the Application Form Correctly

Filling out the passport renewal application form accurately is crucial. Avoid common mistakes such as missing information, using incorrect data, or using white-out on the form. Precise completion will prevent processing issues.

This is one of the often-overlooked benefits of getting expedited service through a registered passport expediter. As part of their service, these professionals help you ensure everything is in order with your application and supporting materials before they are submitted.

3. DO Follow Passport Photo Guidelines Closely

Passport photos must adhere to specific guidelines, including size, background, and expression.

There are ways to express your own personal style and get a passport photo you’ll love, but don’t get your application denied because you are sacrificing compliance for vanity.

Ignoring passport photo guidelines can and will lead to rejections and delays. Always be sure to have the appropriate photos taken before submitting your application.

4. DO Choose the Appropriate Expedited Service

There are different expedited processing times for you to choose from based on your urgency.

When applying for expedited service at a post office or for an expedited passport renewal by mail, you can expect to wait several weeks to get your new passport. However, applying at a regional agency can reduce your wait to anywhere from 8 business days to same-day service.

Top passport expediters typically offer varying levels of service depending on how fast you need your passport. Many are able to get you a passport as fast or faster than you might be able to by visiting a regional agency on your own (but without you needing to make or attend the appointment yourself).

Once you’ve decided you need expedited service, be sure you are choosing the service option that best aligns with your travel plans.

5. DO Schedule an Appointment (if necessary):

Depending on your location, you may need to schedule an appointment for your passport application. If you are getting a new passport at a passport office, you will likely be making an appointment at a local U.S. Post Office location. Planning ahead and securing an appointment can save you time and ensure you have the necessary assistance.

Walk-in passport appointments are possible, but we don’t recommend it. In our experience, trying to get an expedited passport without an appointment rarely results in getting the travel document you need when you need it.

In most cases, a passport expediter will be able to offer you the best hybrid of speed, cost, and convenience.

5 Don’ts to Steer Clear of in Expedited Passport Applications

1. DON’T Procrastinate

Avoid the temptation to delay your passport renewal until the last minute. Applying well in advance ensures you have your passport ready when you need it. The longer you wait, the more stress and costs will pile up.

If you do need to get a passport faster than routine service, be sure to err on the side of caution and opt for the expediting option that affords you the most breathing room. You don’t want to risk having to delay or cancel travel plans because you are still waiting for your passport to arrive.

2. DON’T Forget to Check Eligibility

Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria for expedited passport renewal before applying. If you don’t qualify for expedited services, applying for them can lead to unnecessary complications.

For instance, if you visit a regional passport agency without proof of your urgent travel need, you will likely be turned away without being given the chance to submit your application—let alone expedite it.

3. DON’T Submit Incomplete Applications

Submitting an incomplete application can result in processing delays. You can’t submit your application and supporting materials piecemeal; they all need to be properly completed and compiled as part of your application package.

Carefully review all forms and documents before you mail them or bring them to your passport appointment. Ensure nothing is missing or incorrect.

4. DON’T Make These Common Passport Photo Mistakes

Passport photos must meet specific guidelines, such as size, background, and expression. To help, we have compiled a guide to 9 of the most common reasons a passport photo gets rejected and how to avoid them.

Remember, these are hard and fast rules set by the U.S. Department of State, not suggestions. Neglecting these regulations will lead to passport application rejections and delays.

5. DON’T Ignore Application Fee Details:

Every passport application requires very specific payment amounts and methods. Expedited applications require additional fees, as do passport expediting services and expedited mailing options.

Be sure to check our Routine and Expedited Fees Guide to verify the latest application prices as well as what payment methods are acceptable for your chosen application method.

Incorrect payment or failure to include the appropriate fees will result in delays and complications.

Bonus Tips for a Smooth Expedited Passport Process

5 tips just weren’t enough. Here are two more of our best pieces of advice for applicants who need to get a passport fast.

Use a Reliable Passport Service

Consider using a reputable passport processing service that specializes in expedited applications. These services can streamline the application process and offer expert guidance throughout.

Furthermore, when you consider how much it costs to get a passport at a regional agency yourself – including travel, lodging, food, and time off from work – you will likely find that using a passport courier actually saves you money.

Track Your Passport Application:

Keep tabs on your passport application’s status by using the tracking tools provided by the U.S. Department of State or your passport expediting service. This can help alert you to any delays and help ease any anxiety about the processing timeline for your new travel documents.

For more information, be sure to check out our step-by-step guide to tracking your passport status.

You’re Ready to Expedite

Expedited passport applications can be a lifesaver when you have urgent travel plans. By following the do’s and don’ts outlined in this guide, you’ll increase your chances of a successful and stress-free application process.

For more detailed information and resources, please visit our guides to expediting a new passport and expediting a passport renewal.

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About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

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