Your Papers, Please! How to Renew Your Passport in 4 Hours Without Any Stress

By Paul Riegler on 14 August 2017
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Most countries require visitors to have a passport valid for at least six months following the date of entry, but renewing your passport when you travel multiple times a month, such as I do for work, can be tricky.

With four months remaining on my U.S. passport (like several others at FBT, I’m a dual citizen so I also have an EU passport, in my case from Germany), I decided it was time. With a trip overseas planned for the middle of August, I looked at the options which included the standard renewal (which, according to the passport agency’s website takes six to eight weeks), expedited renewal for those with trips in less than six weeks with a cost of $60 on top of the $110 passport renewal fee), and truly expedited service, where one makes an appointment at a regional passport agency office, also for a $60 fee. The State Department also will make special accommodations for those with life or death emergencies, “serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family that require you to travel outside the United States within 72 hours.”

There are also agencies that will handle the renewal for a fee of several hundred dollars in addition to the State Department fees but I concluded that I could easily do this myself and write about the experience. What I found changed my opinion, at least in part, about the efficiency and friendliness of government agencies.

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The State Department will issue a passport on the same day for those with travel plans within two weeks of the appointment date so I made an appointment for a time where I was going to be on Long Island for FBT meetings and, on a sunny August morning, drove to Stamford, Connecticut, for an 11 a.m. appointment.

The drive from our Long Island outpost took an hour and parking at the passport office was easy and free. Upon walking into the building, a friendly greeter double checked that I had the correct paperwork (application, itinerary showing my planned departure date, photo, and current passport) and directed me to the registration area upstairs. The room was packed but, because I had an appointment, I simply joined the queue and was speaking to the first passport clerk in a matter of seconds. The interaction was warm, welcoming, and friendly as she double-checked my paperwork and directed me to the next area. The room again was full, apparently with people without appointments, and my wait time was about five minutes, barely enough time to open my MacBook and answer a few e-mail messages that were easier to type on a real keyboard versus using my iPhone.

My number was called almost immediately and, after signing the form and paying $170 for the passport and expedited service, I was on my way out the door in under 15 minutes. If only the Department of Motor Vehicles were as efficient.

Click here to continue to Page 2Picking Up My Passport

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