How I Got a Passport in Three Days (It Wasn’t Cheap)

Realizing you need a passport last minute can be an extremely stressful experience. Last year, three days before I went to Ireland, I realized my passport was going to expire the day after we got back. Most international countries have laws that your passport has to be valid at least six months after your return ticket. I called both the Irish Embassy in Washington D.C. and the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, but I was completely out of luck. I had to find a new passport and quick.

My next stop was the post office, but the response I got was a laugh and a “No way will you get a passport in two days up here to Alaska. You’ve got to go to an Agency Office.”

I was given a scrap piece of paper that said Passport Agency scribbled on it and a halfhearted “Good luck” from the attendant.

I googled the words on my paper and found a website that listed all the agencies in the U.S. Of course, there aren’t any agencies in Alaska. The closest is Seattle.

The next step was signing up for an appointment. There were only a few appointment slots open and I figured, “I can book an appointment now and if it doesn’t work out I can cancel it later”. So that’s what I did, without thinking I had booked myself an appointment at the agency in Seattle for the next morning at 9 a.m.

At this point I saw some hope, but I was completely in the dark on what the possibilities were. It didn’t matter how many different searches I had entered, I couldn’t find anyone to tell me if I could get a passport in 48 hours or not. If I was going to fly to Seattle I was going to take a risk.

I looked online at flights, there was a flight for 4 a.m. the next morning. I glanced at my bank account, bit my lip, and thought, “it’s worth it.”

Less than 10 hours later I was stepping onto the metro in Seattle headed downtown. I got to the Passport Agency as soon as the doors opened. My welcome was walking through a metal detector and being stuffed in an elevator.

I stepped into the office and got in line. Even though I had an appointment for 9 a.m., the doors opened at 8 a.m. and I wasn’t going to take any risks. I gave the woman all the required documents (list is below) and told her my whole story.

She couldn’t believe I had flown all the way from Anchorage and had tickets to leave the country so soon. She stamped my paperwork and handed it back, “Be back at 2 p.m., it’ll be ready for pick up.”
“Seriously?” was all I could get out of my mouth. She shrugged and told me that I had made it easy. I had done all the hard work, flying from Alaska and having everything ready. She said it would be easy and I fit the requirements for a same day passport. I couldn’t have felt more relieved!

I walked around Pike’s Market and at 2 p.m. sharp I was back through the metal detector and up in the office getting my new passport.

So yes, if you really need it, you can get a passport in a few days. If you can, plan ahead. Don’t put yourself through the stress and cost of a last-minute passport if you can help it. It was the most stressful days I’d ever been through. But I have my friends to thank, Katrina and Alex, who gave me a place to stay for two nights in Seattle while I figured it out. And also, Sylvia who called the U.S. Embassy in Ireland so that I wouldn’t have the international charges on my phone.

So if you’re dealing with passport issues, follow the links below and figure out how you can go on your trip!

Documents You’ll Need:

  • Passport Photo – You can get these at most stores that have photo centers like Fred Meyer or Walgreens
  • Forms- Make sure it’s all filled out to save you time and hassle (List is linked below)
  • Birth Certificate
  • Old Passport. (if you’re renewing)
  • If you are traveling in less than 2-3 weeks bring proof of your travel (print out of plane ticket works best)

Helpful Links:

List of Forms Needed: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/requirements/forms.html

Online Passport Appointment System: https://passportappointment.travel.state.gov

Passport Agency Office Locations: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/requirements/where-to-apply/passport-agencies.html

Passport in a Hurry Information (time table): https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passport/hurry.html