Getting a Same Day Passport

by on March 28, 2008 at 6:53 pm

Despite what airline agents will tell you, it is pretty straightforward to get a same day passport.

A few things you should know:

  • The search results are polluted. Most of the ‘passport-expediters’ will slow you down / make it impossible to get a same day passport.
  • You have to make an appointment. From what I can tell they don’t hold you to the exact time. The appointment process is really just to keep the riff-raff out. Update: Some readers have been able to get a passport with out an appointment. YMMV.
  • Your passport has to be processed at one of the Regional Centers. If you can’t get there in person, you’re not getting a passport the same day. The expediters all require you to ship stuff. These centers are:
    • East Coast: Boston, Miami, New York, Norwalk CT, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Portsmouth NH
    • West Coast: Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego
    • Middle: Aurora CO, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, Tucson AZ
  • It takes 3-5 hours to actually make the passport. Take the earliest appointment you can get. You can’t count on just stopping by the office, standing in line and then heading to the airport. My appointment was at 8:30 AM. I got my passport by 2:15.

The process looks like this:

  • Make an appointment. 1-877-487-2778. This is number is an automated service. It is available 24/7. We found a minor bug in the system since our home address was in Seattle, but we needed to visit the LAX center. So, we used the zip code of our hotel at LAX. They apparently help people 7 days a week (except federal holidays). However, they don’t publish their weekend hours, so it isn’t clear how open they really are.
    • Do this immediately.
    • Take the earliest appointment available.
  • Get passport photos. No, they don’t do this there - mind-boggling. Many 1-hr photo places can do these. I got mine at CVS (look for the ones with ‘1-hr photo’). Walmart does them as well. Call ahead if you are going to go to a 24-hr place like CVS or Walmart - they don’t always have people at the photo labs. It costs about $10 and takes 5 minutes. Updated: Feedback from visitors strongly favor getting photos taken at Kinko’s as their photo facilities are always running when the store is open. CVS closes their photo lab during some off-hours.
  • Show up, fill out forms. Pay. It cost me $220 to get mine.
    • You need to prove US citizenship and you need to prove identity. The identity part is straightforward (you can even have someone testify that it is you). Apparently the only way to do this is with a birth certificate or passport. If you had a prior passport, they can look it up in their system. However, they charge you $60 for the ‘research’ (it takes 2 min).
  • Come back later and pick up your passport. They’ll give you a time to show up. Get there as early as possible.

The State Department website is reasonably useful as well and should be used as your primary research. I find it amusing that they feel it is necessary to include this statement:


Updated Dec 2010:
Wow, 150+ comments! That makes it kind of hard to navigate the responses. There is some awesomely helpful experiences layered in the comments. I’ve gone through all 150+ comments and grouped them by passport office when one was mentioned (I only grouped helpful experiences). If you’re interested in experiences specific to one passport office, please visit the relevant page below:

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