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How to Renew an Expired Passport in Nine Hours

Update (3/17/14): I wrote this post a few years ago, so please take that with a grain of salt. That being said, based on the happy user comments, it looks like nothing of the process I describe below has changed–everything is still accurate and should work for you.

It was the day before Startup Festival and I was just a few hours away from hopping on a red eye to Montreal. I went to United’s website to check in when I was prompted to enter my passport number. I pull out my passport and take a look at the information, expires July 8th 2011. It was July 12th—shit. My passport expired four days ago and I had a flight to catch.

I call up United and, as I suspected, they inform me that I won’t be able to fly on an expired passport. My only option was to cancel the flight, scramble to renew my passport in a day, and book a new flight tomorrow. This is how I did it.

Disclaimer: I did this in Los Angeles. The process should be the same elsewhere in the nation, but your mileage may vary. Also, I cut this close; there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to renew your passport the same day, but it’s worth a shot.

  • Make an appointment. Call up the US Passport Office and use their automated phone system to make an appointment. When I called, they gave me a date late into next week. That wouldn’t work for me so I decided to hangup and show up the next day, sans appointment. Following the appointment process is the recommended way, but I was desperate.
  • Get your photo taken. An expired passport means an outdated passport photo. In order to renew your passport, you’ll need new photos. Call around to the local CVS and Walgreens. I was able to find a nearby Walgreens that had a photo department that was open until 10 PM. I went over and had two photos made. It cost me around $10. If you can’t find anything, you can go to the photo place near the Federal Building’s cafeteria the next morning. They open at 7 AM and charge $14 for two photos. (Avoid this since it would cause you to lose your place in line.)
  • Fill out the renewal form. Go to the US Passport Office’s website and download the DS-82 form. Print it out and complete it ahead of time so that you’re not scrambling last minute. Don’t staple your photos to it, they’ll take care of it at the office. When filling out the form, you’ll want the passport book, not the passport card. (I accidentally checked “both” and had to change it later.)
  • Print out your itinerary. In order to renew your passport at the last minute, you need to be able to prove that it’s urgent. Print our your itinerary that shows that you’re flying soon. (I attempted to use my hotel reservation, but they wanted to see a flight itinerary.)

The next morning, bring with you:

  • a copy of your itinerary
  • your DS-82
  • your expired passport
  • your wallet
  • Line up early. At the time of this writing, the Los Angeles US Passport Office opens at 7 AM. (Check the website for your location’s hours.) I woke up at 5 AM and was at the office by 5:30 AM. There were three people already lined up in front of me. Get there early. If you don’t have an appointment, you’ll need to line up at the “Will Call” windows. You should be able to see them when you arrive at the Federal Building. They’re labeled “Will Call A” and “Will Call B”. There will be two lines, one at will call for people that don’t have appointments, and one at the door to the passport office for those that do have appointments.
  • Make your case. At around 7 AM the window will open and they’ll take people one at a time. Be polite, show your itinerary, and explain your situation. “My passport expired and I need to fly out tonight. I don’t have an appointment, is there anything you can do?” The person will give you a ticket with a number on it and tell you to go wait in the line with people that have appointments. That ticket is essentially your appointment.
  • Wait. You’ll slowly make your way through the appointment line to security. The security check is just like the one you’d find at an airport. Turn off your cell phones (this is required) and leave as much as you can in your car (don’t bring a laptop or anything more than your paperwork and old passport). Once in the building you’ll head to the Passport office and stand in another line. Eventually you’ll get to the window where the clerk will look your paperwork over and give you another ticket. You’ll then sit in the waiting area and wait for your number to be called. Cell phones and laptops are not allowed, so chat up the people next to you or bring a book—the analog kind.
  • Pay the fee. Eventually, your number will be called and you’ll go up to a window. (By now it was around 9 AM.) The clerk will look over your paperwork once more and you’ll pay $110 to renew the passport and $60 to expedite the process, so $170 total. (These prices were at the time of writing, they may increase. They accept credit cards.) If everything goes well, they’ll give you a receipt with a time to come back to pick up your passport. Typically, it’s between 1 PM and 3 PM that same day. If you got this far, there’s a very good chance you’ll be getting your passport.
  • Wait some more. Go grab lunch at In-n-Out and come back to the Federal Building around 2 PM. (The receipt says to show up between 1 PM and 3 PM, but they never have it ready that early.) Stand in the will call line and give the clerk your receipt. They’ll either have your passport ready, or ask you to wait a bit longer. I ended up getting mine at 3 PM, right when the Passport office closes.

There you have it, a passport in nine hours. Now, never do this again. Be prudent and renew by mail well in advance next time. Happy travels. Tips are totally unnecessary, but always welcome :) My Paypal/Venmo address is rsonawalla@gmail.com; Bitcoin: 19A6e99i1pLmypXcUhvCN6NSrZ4J6r9YCT Dogecoin: D6HoHsdKpYXTeKKcHTXwJd1pLc31ds9Zvd

Comments

  1. Kyle Hudson on August 6, 2011

    Love the post, if you think they mess you around with the US passport office try getting an emergency one in the UK :(


  2. Rahim Sonawalla on August 13, 2011

    Thanks, Kyle! Yeah, I was pretty surprised that it worked out.


  3. Christine on June 10, 2012

    This is awesome. I am in the same boat except my flight leaves tonight (on Sunday), so I am already going to miss my trip. Hoping I can rebook for tomorrow.


  4. Rahim Sonawalla on June 11, 2012

    Good luck! Let us know how it turns out.


  5. jshe on July 5, 2012

    This is very useful information: detailed and practical. I followed your roadmap (almost exactly) in Washington DC today, and got my passport in 8.5 hours!

    Thank you so much for laying out a feasible solution for otherwise a devastate situation for me!


  6. Rahim Sonawalla on July 5, 2012

    Glad it was helpful! Were there any important changes that you ran into in DC that might be helpful for other folks?


  7. Christine on July 12, 2012

    It’s Christine again. I followed these instructions exactly and went to the LA passport office. On Sunday when I discovered that my passport was expired for my flight that evening, I called and made an appointment with the LA passport office. I was lucky to get an appointment at 8am. I changed my hotel reservation and flight for the next day (Monday night). I didn’t want to risk going to the passport office telling them I would reschedule my flight. You must show proof that you have a flight scheduled. They specifically asked to see proof of a scheduled flight.

    I had my passport photo ready and my forms filled out before arriving. I got there early Monday morning at 6:30am because I was nervous and already there were about 14 other desperate people on line. There is a guard stationed outside making sure you have an appointment and proper forms. You might be able to get in if you have an afternoon appointment or without one. He merely asked me if I had an appointment and confirmation number and I said yes, and then I walked in. No one checks once you are in the office. Only the guard outside.

    Once inside, it literally took me 5 minutes. They took the forms and my check for $170 and told me to come back in the afternoon between 1-3pm to pick it up. There was a huge line when I arrived around 2pm. Lots of people on line waiting to get their passports. When I finally got to the window, they didnt have mine ready, so getting there any earlier wouldnt have mattered. They do cut off the line by 3pm though, so you must arrive before 3pm or risk having to go back the following day.

    For those of us whose passports werent ready yet, they closed the line at 3pm and sent us into the passport office (the pick-up is an outside window). I sat there another 45 minutes waiting and nervous that I wouldnt get one, but there was no reason to be. Everyone who is sent inside is served. That’s why they close the window at 3pm because it takes another 2 hours to get everyone squared away. So by 5pm, they are done. I left the passport office with passport in hand around 4:30pm. You would be best advised if you do what I did to schedule your flight for the evening. One lady kept yelling that she had a 630pm flight and didnt want to wait in line. After much pleading, she was finally allowed to cut the line.

    Apparently, this kind of thing is fairly common. A number of other people on line had expired passports but scheduled trips. The passport office is well aware of this issue and they take care of this everyday. Seems to be standard operating procedure for them. I cant understand, however, why we dont receive notification by mail or otherwise about passports about to expire like we do for driver’s licenses.

    Thanks again for this great post. It was a tremendous post in a time of need. I got to go on my vacation, just one day late.


  8. Rahim Sonawalla on July 13, 2012

    Hi Christine,

    Thanks so much for your detailed story, I’m sure other folks will find it helpful!

    I totally agree about how the reminder should be mailed to you. If you’re like most people, you don’t travel internationally often and aren’t going to be aware of when your passport expires. Glad you were able to make your vacation (or the bulk of it at least).


  9. zkubidu on August 13, 2012

    This was probably the most help in my situation. I ended up not being able to get on my flight because my passport was expired, unfortunately my flight was initially schedule for Saturday morning. However, upon finding this site I was able to schedule an appointment for Monday morning at 8:30AM. I arrived a half an hour early with the aforementioned items in hand and was out of the building by 9AM. I returned at 1:30PM and began waiting in line at the Will Call window, reaching the window at 2PM I was turned away as my passport was not ready. I returned about 15 minutes later after a quick snack and got to the window just prior to 3PM this time and was handed my new passport.

    Can’t thank you enough.

    Prices are still $170 at this time to renew for an expedited, same-day issue passport.


  10. Rahim Sonawalla on August 15, 2012

    Thanks for the update, zkubidu. Good to know the renewal price hasn’t gone up!


  11. April D on June 4, 2013

    Realized this morning that my husband’s passport expired a few weeks ago. We leave for Mexico in a week and half. Scheduled an appt in Hot Springs AR. Seven hours from here. Appointment not till Monday and he may not be able to stick around for pick up in the afternoon due to work obligations. Hopefully the overnight mail option is a legit one. Thanks for the useful info. Sounds like going prepared makes all of the difference.


  12. Rahim Sonawalla on June 6, 2013

    Let us know how it goes! I’m especially curious since you’ll be doing it in Arizona. I’d like to know if it’s easier or harder there.


  13. Irene on June 14, 2013

    Unfortunately, this process will not work for our trip this weekend. Got the passports out of the safety deposit box late yesterday to find our youngest daughter’s passport had expired (youth passports have a shorter life span). Got on the phone first thing this morning but unfortunately the closest passport office is 6 hours away in Detroit. The fortunate part is that our flight is into Puerto Rico (U.S. Territory), therefore driver’s license is acceptable. I had time to get an original birth cert. and we’ll see what our options are. It’s a cruise vacation and the passport would have helped her get off on some of the ports.


  14. Keith on June 24, 2013

    Thanks for detailing the process! I am in Boston and I followed your instructuons, passport should be ready by 4:00pm in time for my 5:30am flight tommorrow!


  15. John on July 27, 2013

    My flight is at LAX on 8/1/13 at 5:45pm. And I made an appointment at 8:30AM on the same day at the same office as you. I was wondering if I had enough time to check in and board the plane. I am a bit nervous about the while thing. Plus this is my first time renewing as an adult, would that factor into how long it would take to get the passport?


  16. mary on July 30, 2013

    This advice was invaluable! I worked like a charm. We realized at the 11th hour that my daughter’s passport had expired and we realized it on the weekend. Thanks to you, I hit Monday morning running and by the end of the day, had a passport in hand! They excepted a train itinerary fyi!


  17. Rahim Sonawalla on July 30, 2013

    John: I don’t think it being your first time would factor into the time taken to do a renewal. Since your flight isn’t for a few days, why not try renewing your passport early (say today or tomorrow) without an appointment? Don’t cancel your appointment, just show up a few days before and use the method in the post. If all else fails, you can always use your appointment the day of your flight, but if it works out, you’ll avoid the stress of having to renew and fly out the same day.

    Mary: Glad to hear it!


  18. John on July 31, 2013

    Oh ok I’ll just stick with the same day appointment. Also since my appointment is at 8:30, can I go there as soon as they open or will they make me wait till 8:30?
    Thanks.


  19. Rahim Sonawalla on July 31, 2013

    I’m not sure, since I did it without an appointment. I would get there when they open just in case.

    Even with an appointment, I suspect you won’t get your renewed passport until 3 PM (when the office closes). You should try to get someone to drive you to LAX so that you can take carpool down the 405 and make your 5:45 PM flight!

    Keep us posted!


  20. ACJ on August 22, 2013

    Had to get my passport renewed this morning due to an unexpected trip to Canada tomorrow. Panicked, I decided to risk just showing up at the NYC agency on Hudson street. Showed up there at about 6:45 and was 5th in line. I think 2 of those people worked at the building which opens at 7:30am.

    There are TWO lines. One for people that made an appt and one for those who didnt. The guard just tells you which to go in depending on your situation. I was in the B line and had to wait about 10min for the people before me to go and then a couple of A liners that came in (they get priority). I got to one of the three counters and in about 2min they checked my docs and gave me a number and told me to proceed up to the 10th floor for the real processing.

    I no more than got off the elevator and my number was being called. I didn’t have a printout of my itinerary since I made the trip reservation late last night. I was able to EMAIL it to the person helping me and she immeidately verified and it said my passport would be ready by NOON. Wow. I paid the $170 and left with my receipt.

    Could not have been smoother. By the time I got to the Agency there must have been 40 people in line but they all seemed to have been taken care of very promptly. For a gov agency, this was an absolute breeze. I was almost ready to pay a third party service another $250 to get next day processing. Just go very early and you’ll be good. Must have docs showing you’ll be traveling in the next day if you need the passport same day.Very very impressed.

    I’d get there at about 6:40am and you should be good just to be safe.


  21. Rahim Sonawalla on August 22, 2013

    Thanks for sharing, ACJ. Sounds like good news for folks living in NYC that need to renew–much smoother process than LA :)


  22. Salma on August 31, 2013

    This seems very useful for the people who live in the U.S. I am an American citizen, but I’ve been living in Egypt for nine years. My flight to New York is in three days and I just found out that my passport is expired. I’m pretty sure things will be more complicated for me, since I live in Egypt, considering the difficulties the country is going through. The other problem is that I’m 15 (I have school in New York, it starts on September 9th, I was wondering if this could be a reason for them to renew my passport faster.) In Egypt, things usually don’t go very easily. We don’t have many passport offices in Egypt. So, in order to renew my passport, I need to go to the U.S embassy, which is closed today. I’m also not sure in they’ll let me in without an appointment. And scheduling an appointment is not an option, since it’s going to be in about a week. If anyone has any useful information please tell me, it would mean a lot. Thank you.


  23. emily on November 12, 2013

    thanks so much for this! your post encouraged me to try going to the passport office in NYC without an appointment today, 3 days before a flight, and i’m getting my renewed passport back tomorrow. they are totally set up to handle walk-ins–if you don’t have an appointment you just have to wait in a different and longer line and be fit in between the people who do have appointments. (there are more legit reasons for people to need to get in without an appointment, other than just being forgetful/oblivious like i was–the woman ahead of me needed a last-minute passport to attend a family member’s funeral, so it makes sense that the office would be set up to handle emergencies like that.) i got there at 7 am, got in line behind about 8 people, and from 7-7:30 the line quickly built up behind me, so i suggest getting there by 7 or earlier for less of a wait. i was in and out by 8:15 am, and if you don’t need the passport the same day, you can come back and pick it up the next afternoon–seems like they decide how fast to prepare it based on how urgently you need it. from now on i’m going to look at my passport expiration date every single time i book an international flight…

    thanks again!!!!!


  24. Angela on December 5, 2013

    I have a friend trying to fly out in the morning from Austin, but her passport expired and I don’t really see a way for her to get it renewed in time. The Houston passport office is closed for renovations, so she would have to go to Dallas (ice storm tonight), or El Paso or New Orleans.

    I’m glad to have found your information. I am now going to check the expiration date of my own passport! Good luck, y’all!


  25. Steve on December 18, 2013

    Giving it a try tomorrow in Denver (Aurora) Passport office. I’ll let you know how it goes.


  26. Steven on January 25, 2014

    I realized this morning (Saturday) that my passport expired on January 20th. My wife and I are planning on flying to Paris on January 29th (Wednesday). I scheduled an appointment at the passport office in Dallas for Monday at 2pm but after reading this I think I will show up to will call tomorrow morning. Luckily, the passport office is 2 miles from my office.

    Thanks so much for this post, I hope my results are the same as yours.


  27. Elisa on February 2, 2014

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences! I realized yesterday (Saturday) that my husband’s passport expires in June but we are traveling to he Caribbean in February so we are within the 6 months to expiration. I have not slept because of worry but I called and scheduled an appointment in Washington DC (4 hours away) for Thursday at noon. I am thinking I will not get my passport same day since my departure will still be a week away but I hope they will send overnight so I will not have to travel back to DC. Your comments have helped me relax a little!


  28. Al on February 11, 2014

    Thanks! This totally worked!!!

    I was just at the US passport office on 11000 Wilshire Blvd (same office as you). I didn’t make an appointment, as I saw in your article that it would be pointless. So I showed up there at 7 AM. A security guard will ask if you have an appointment or no appointment. If you don’t have an appointment, it must be an emergency (meaning that you must have a flight within 24 or 48 hours, forgot what he said. You also must show him proof that you are flying within that time period). So I brought the completed DS-82 Form, my flight itinerary, my old expired passport, and my passport photo that I took at Walgreen’s. Then I went inside the passport office. After checking all my stuff, At 7:30 am, the lady said they would issue my passport the same day at around 2 PM.

    So, I went back to the office at 2 PM, but they still didn’t have it done. The lady at the ‘Will Call’ booth said wait 30 more minutes. So I left. I returned, and by then, there was a longer line, but when it was my turn, i finally received my passport! Oh, and the cost was around $170, for the passport book. The lady said it was an extra $60 for the rush processing.

    Thanks alot man. I hope my experience here shows that you can get your passport in 24 hours, but it is definitely not recommended, as you said :)


  29. Marshall Saunders on March 17, 2014

    I can’t tell you how awesome this post was for me and my family. We really thought our vacation was ruined. We all had valid passports but they expired within 90 days after our return trip to Europe. I followed your advice exactly, downloaded the forms you linked to and went to the passport office in downtown Minneapolis. I got it all taken care of and we are now heading off to our vacation only having been delayed 20 hours by this problem. Thank you so much for walking us through the process. It really was a vacation-saver.


  30. Rahim Sonawalla on March 17, 2014

    Marshall, glad to hear everything worked out!


  31. John on March 18, 2014

    Many thanks — great information. Yes, it still works in Los Angeles — as of March 18, 2014. Arrived at about 7:30 AM to renew my son’s passport after realizing at last minute it had expired. My bad. That’s when the main building opens — but the Will Call actually opens at 7:00 AM. There was no one else ahead of me there. The guy there verified my travel date and gave me an entry ticket. There were about 12 or so people in the appointments line — but the security guy then placed me ahead of them in entering the building! Apparently, having a travel date a few days away gives one that degree of priority! Was out of the building by around 8:30 AM. Told to come back to collect the passport at 2:00 PM. That was the only time I had to stand in line for any significant period — but I got the passport at around 2:40 PM (though some people with 2:00 PM collect times had to go back to the end of the line and re-present themselves). The staff there are helpful — they could not have had better attitudes at every step of the way. Government at its best. Everything was as positive and efficient an experience as it could have been. High-season wait times might be longer, though. And don’t try this unless you have documented international air travel within the next few days — they checked at two stages in the process. Much better to renew/apply the ordinary way if you have your act together, which I didn’t on this occasion.


  32. Charles R. on March 19, 2014

    So I am in need to drive to Canada tomorrow and have no way of getting to the passport department until maybe 11am. I also only have proof of traveling by a receipt from a purchased lift ticket at a ski resort. Think they will let me get my passport?


  33. Rahim Sonawalla on March 21, 2014

    Charles, I hope you can, but that sounds like it’d be tricky since you won’t be able to arrive to the passport office until later in the day and they might not see it as pressing since you’re driving over. Keep us posted though!


  34. Joe B. on April 4, 2014

    Want to thank you for posting this blog….2 weeks ago we were leaving to Europe, and 5 hours before I flight I’m checking in online only to realize my wife’s passport was expired. We were able to go to the Miami Passport Agency, showed up at 6am (we were 4th in line)..got called around 11am after all the appts had been called, got our passport at 4pm and were able to fly out the following day only losing one day of our vacation.


  35. Rosa on April 6, 2014

    Thankk youuuu


  36. Shawn N on April 8, 2014

    I really need to travel back to the US for college, but my passport is expired. Is this procedure available in foreign countries (Philippines)? It would be a great help to know because I have to get back to move into the apartment/ attend classes for Summer.


  37. Rahim Sonawalla on April 8, 2014

    Sorry Shawn, never tried it outside of the US. Keep us posted on how it goes!


  38. Charlie David on April 14, 2014

    Awesome post. Just remember that if you can’t get an appointment at a Regional Passport Agency, then you can use other options. http://passportsonline.org/regional-passport-agency/

    Expeditors can secure a passport in 24 hours if you need, and without any appointments.


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