These past few months passport renewals have become so much more challenging! If you're in a rush, a few options include:
- You can pay extra for expedited service from the State Department, but there are no guarantees.
- You can try for an appointment at a passport center (I've used the ATL office a few times), but you may not get one.
- You can ask your member of Congress to intervene.
- Or you can hire a private expedited.
Approximately 200 private companies are authorized by the US State Department to obtain passports on behalf of others. These companies handle hundreds of thousands of passport applications a year. I did not know that each company is allotted a quota of daily appointments at specific passport offices - once that quota is exceeded, you have to wait! If you've already started the process, and then reach out to one of these companies for help, most times they cannot "get your expired passport back" to re-start the process. At that point, once it's in the system, your best bet might be to contact your congressional rep.
The worst passport episode I heard of was a family traveling to Costa Rica. Upon arrival, their daughter's passport was flagged as STOLEN (even though she was holding it in her hand). The expiration date was still valid, but she was NOT ALLOWED to enter the country. Thus, she and her mother had to sit at the airport, get the next flight back to the US, secure a last-minute, new passport, and then return to Costa Rica to rejoin her father and brother. There was NO NOTIFICATION from the US Government that her passport was invalidated. They did not know until she tried to enter another country. A painful and expensive experience.
I've started researching how to "verify" if my US passport is valid --- or worse --- invalid.