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Passport on the quick Jul 29

If you want to travel overseas you need a passport. You can find all sorts of info about getting a passport at the Department of State’s travel website. If you plan ahead a bit, it’s not too painful, and if you have an expired passport, you can even fill out a form online and send your stuff in by mail. Takes maybe six weeks. But you might not have six weeks. Depending on how much extra you’re willing to spend, you can shorten the time by more than half, or even get it done in one day.

That rectangular logo at the bottom indicates that the passport can be read electronically

I recently had opportunity to renew mine on short notice. Here’s how the “adventure” went.

First, I have an expired passport, so all I needed was that and a filled out form DS-82, which I filled out online and printed. (This is the form you mail in for a renewal if you have time. I didn’t.) Oh yes—I needed to bring my drivers license. And proof that I’m about to travel. And two passport photos. And money, $170 to be exact. $60 of that was for my renewal method—show up in person at the office in Philadelphia. This is the fastest way to get a passport (and most expensive), and they let you do it in person only if you have less than two weeks before you travel (Hence the proof of travel. Tickets or an itinerary will do). At least you can make the appointment by phone, and it’s all automated. Worked slick. Here’s the number, if you want it: 877-487-2778.

So I got an appointment and the confirmation number (another thing they say you need, but I didn’t need it). The US Custom House in Philadelphia isn’t hard to get to, but I was glad for my GPS. I don’t do Philly very often.

Here's where you get a passport in Philadelphia

The appointment gets you a place in line. Well, lines. I got into a 15 minute line to tell them I was there, then a 45-minute line (we got to sit in chairs) until they called your number. They have an automated sign that tells you how long the wait is. Look at it when you register. That’s your wait time. You can go to the nice little lunch room upstairs while you wait, but be sure to get back down to the room before they call your number. I had all my papers in order, so processing went smoothly, and the clerk was friendly. In fact, all the staff was friendly and good-natured. (You can smile in the passport photo, by the way. What’s important is that it looks like you. —I wonder if I could have made a face for mine.)

Then I learned that my passport would be ready in about three and a  half hours! So I got to do a nice walking tour of Old Philly.  Go to my personal blog, Mushrooms to Motorcycles, to get the details about that.

So I showed up promptly at the appointed time, but my passport didn’t show up for another hour. Lots of other folks got theirs on schedule, though. I was just unlucky, I think.

So I’m ready to go! Maybe there’ll be some posts about my trip in the near future. It’s a work trip, not a vacation, so I couldn’t use my Serenity agent (the company is making the arrangements) .

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Category: Adventure, Plug
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