Aliens in the Barn

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Passport Renewal Made Easy Part I

I sent an expired passport in the mail Thursday, Jan. 29th with the hopes that maybe I'd get it back in 3 or 4 weeks. Now, this was a big maybe and a huge hope. Exactly one week later, however, and I mean only 7 mere days, I got a knock at the door. It was the mailman with a document envelope.

On the envelope, there was a request to waive the signature. I knew immediately that it had to due with the passport. However, my next thought was that they needed me to send something to them giving them permission to waive some sort of signature.

I opened the package with dread in my heart, thinking that now I'd have to wait yet another week for this passport. I looked in the envelope and, lo and behold, that passport was in there!

I thought for sure it was some sort of trick, a fake, a promise that the passport is coming and that they're showing me that this is what it's going to look like when it gets to me...Something like that that wouldn't really make much sense, but my active imagination was convincing me it had to be something other than the real thing.

No, it was the real thing! Oh, happy day!

I want to spread this good news to anyone who needs a passport renewal right away. It was so easy to do and I didn't have to use a courier.

Let me give a little bit of a background on how I came to learn to do this:

My husband and I are planning a trip in April for our 10 year Anniversary. As usual, we waited until the last minute. Despite that, everything was going along smoothly in the planning until we discovered that his passport had expired in January. Our travel agent suggested we not book the trip until we get the passport renewed. Since the trip is so soon, there was a possibility of it selling out.

So, I near-frantically started researching how to get the passport renewed in a hurry. The last thing I wanted to happen was to find that we waited too late to book and then completely missed the trip due to an expired passport.

I looked at using a courier. Some promise to get you a passport in 24 hours, or some such insanely fast timeframe. However, you pay dearly for this service...upwards of 200 more dollars for your passport, in addition to the passport fees. Those fees are already very high. Tacking 200 more dollars on something that's already 110 dollars is a reason to give me pause.

Not only that, but I started looking at reviews for said couriers and found that the 200 dollars isn't even refundable in a lot of cases. So, if you don't get your passport in the promised time, you can't get your money back.

That's just too much of a risk for me. It was actually an unacceptable risk, especially when I read in some reviews that people were still waiting after two week's time when promised a passport in 24 hours, after paying all that extra money! There were counter-reviews saying that you have to follow the directions of these couriers to the letter in order for it to work in the first place. One misplaced staple and you could be hosed. At those ends, I figured I might as well just send in the passport myself.

We called the nearest passport agency in our area and tried to make an appointment. That was when we found out that you cannot get a passport renewed in person at an agency unless you need your passport in 14 days. We don't need our passport until April, so we were out for an in-person renewal.

I thought about the courier again, afraid that if I didn't get some kind of help with this that we'd lose the booking for our trip and wouldn't be able to go.

I then found a website that looked promising: http://travel.state.gov/

And found this very helpful page: http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html

This website has it all! Step by step instructions for getting a passport, renewing a passport, getting extra pages in an existing passport, visas...everything you'd ever want to know about how to get yourself a passport, a visa, or even a passport card. There is way more useful info than I can write about in this one post. Since we are only talking about passport renewals, let's get to it! (I have included some links below for anyone that may stumble across this post that is looking to get a passport for the first time.)

It took me awhile to go back and forth between all the links and instructions in the website. There is one thing this website is, and that is thorough. I'm going to include step by step instructions along with the links so you can reference where it's all coming from. This way, you won't have to go through all the trial and error research through the site like I had to do. You need your renewal in a hurry, right? No time to learn to navigate a website at a time like this!

STEP 1: For a passport renewal, you need to fill out form DS-82 . You can find the form here: http://travel.state.gov/passport/forms/ds82/ds82_843.html

(This blog post cut me off right at this point. Part II of "Passport Renewal Made Easy" can be found here: http://kyndrahatch.blogspot.com/2012/02/passport-renewal-made-easy-part-ii.html)

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