**IF YOU'RE IN A RUSH, SKIP TO THE BOTTOM FOR STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS**
You ever had one of those days where you are supposed to fly overseas and the day before your flight you realize that your passport is expired and that you can't even renew it because you got it issued when you were under 16? Yeah, me neither, BUT MY SISTER HAS. Sorry to out you Rach, but this shit is too funny now that everything worked out.
My mom and sister were coming to visit me in Barcelona for Christmas. This trip had been planned for months. I overstayed my visa so I could wait for them. I knew I wasn't coming back to the states anytime soon, so this was the only time I would be able to see them until I don't know. Then I get this text from Rachel as she's sitting at DIA about to board a plane to JFK (where she had her connecting flight to BCN the next day) telling me she had just then looked at her passport. Yeah, it was not exactly ideal to wait until the day before to look at her passport, but I have to defend her a bit because she's never traveled outside of the U.S. other than family trips to Mexico when she was under 18, and my mom and I had just assumed hers was valid because all of ours were issued at the same time. We didn't even think about the fact that she was under-age when she got hers and that it expired sooner.
I was livid for about 10 seconds before my brain switched into I will get you to Spain if it's the last thing I do mode. This is one of those proud moments in my life where I wish there was an appropriate spot on my resume to add 'Walked sister through getting a passport within 24 hours of her flight WHILE in a different continent'.
So, I decided that I needed to share this just in case anyone out there runs into this problem. Yes, it is possible to apply for and receive a passport in-hand in New York City within 24 hours of your flight. Is this a guarantee? NO, but it is possible and if you are desperate, it's worth a shot!
I want to make this clear: I only know how to do this in NYC, but I figure it's useful information because New York is a huge hub and JFK and Newark are common connection spots for overseas flights. If you have more than one day to get your passport, this is clearly ideal, but I'm telling you we successfully did this the day of her flight, which was at 5:30pm.
FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY:
Step 1: Accept the fact that you are going to be exhausted and pissed off during this whole process. It's going to suck and there's a lot of standing around a waiting involved.
Step 2: You need to find a place to get 2 passport photos taken immediately. Walgreens works perfectly because they have stores open 24 hours that do passport photos. If you're doing this late at night, make sure you call the store to make sure their photo department is open.
Step 3: Print out your flight itinerary. This is very important because this is what is going to expedite the process at the passport office! This is your proof that you need your passport ASAP!
Step 4: IF YOU ARE APPLYING FOR A NEW PASSPORT (or your old passport was from when you were under 16) fill out the DS-11 Application for a U.S. Passport form very carefully! There cannot be any mistakes! IF YOU ARE RENEWING AN EXPIRED PASSPORT fill out the DS-82 U.S. Passport Renewal Application. DO NOT SIGN THE FORM YET! You'll have to sign it at the passport office!
Step 5: You need to hang on to your old expired passport because it's proof of your citizenship. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE ONE, you will need a certified birth certificate (with an official seal and signature, etc.). There are a few other pain-in-the-ass ways to prove you're a citizen, and you can read about them specifically on page 2 of the DS-11 form.
Step 6: Get to the passport office at 5am sharp! I cannot emphasize this enough! There will be a ridiculous line that forms because it's a government building, so you need to be there BEYOND EARLY! The office doesn't open until 7:30am, but there will already be several people lining up at 5am. You will be waiting outside for 2.5 or more hours -- just accept it now. Bring food and coffee and stuff to entertain you. My sister arrived at 5 and there were 8 people in front of her already. Granted, it was the Monday before Christmas, but better to be safe.
This is the address of the passport office:
376 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014
^ Go this THIS office! Don't go to any third party passport agency! This office is the source! To ease your mind about this, look at the Yelp reviews -- I've never heard of a government building praised so highly... and in New York City of all places.
You need to have all these documents with you:
- 2 passport-sized photos
- DS-11 form completed (but UNSIGNED)
- Your old passport (or certified birth certificate)
- Another form of photo identification (driver license or ID card issued in the U.S.)
- Printed out flight itinerary
- Cash or credit card to pay for expedited passport, which will be around $170 to $250 (sucks, but desperate times call for desperate measures)
THIS SHOULD WORK! My sister got to speak to an agent around 8am and was told to return at 1pm for her passport, AND IT WORKED! Girl was able to make her 5:30pm flight. This trick is to be in line as early as possible, and same-day and next-day flights get priority, so that itinerary is CLUTCH.
DISCLAIMER: it may take longer than 5 hours to process your passport! The more time you have, the better! It really depends how quickly the agent expedites the process, which depends on how soon your flight is and how early you arrive at the office!
So there you have it. I was sweating bullets during this whole ordeal, not entirely sure it was going to work. But it did, and it has worked for other people as well (seriously, go read that Yelp page).
Good luck, my friend.