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How to Get A Passport in Less Than 6 Hours

So I know you see the title of this post and are thinking “This is complete BS”, but I assure you that it is not. In this post, I will outline the steps that I took to apply and have my passport in hand in less than six hours not counting travel time. Buckle up because you’re in for an interesting passport ride.

This summer I had the absolute privilege to travel to Barcelona, Spain as a guest of W Hotel Barcelona. As you all know international travel means having a passport and prior to this trip I did not have a passport. Because I received confirmation of the trip exactly 9 days before I was to leave, I needed to get my passport quickly and knew that the traditional route was not an option for me. Come hell or high water, I was getting my passport and I was going to Barcelona. After doing some Google searches, I learned that most US Passport agencies are able to offer expedited passports as long as you have proof of immediate travel. Unfortunately for me, there is not an office in Shreveport so I had to figure out where I needed to go and set up an appointment.

Step 1: Use the Online Passport Appointment System to find the nearest passport office to you and set up an appointment.

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The passport offices do not take walk-ins. You MUST have an appointment or you will be SOL. You will need to enter all of your information regarding your trip and once you are done with all of the steps, you will receive a confirmation page and you will be emailed a confirmation about your appointment. I chose to go to the Hot Springs office because they had an abundance of available appointments. Dallas and Hot Springs are equally three hours from here, but there were no available appointments in Dallas.

Step 2: Fill out your passport application on your computer.

You cannot submit a passport application online, but you can fill it out online and print it. I advise you to do this. The passport agents appreciate your application being legible and neat, so typing is the way to go.

Step 3: Get your pictureSSSSSS.

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I put a lot of emphasis on multiple pictures because I chose to go the extreme cheap way of getting a picture. I had my coworker take a pic of me and I took several selfies using the guidelines the passport website gives about white background, natural smile, etc. I then had 2 photographer friends, create a 4×6 layout with my pictures because your passport picture must be 2×2, but Walgreens does not print anything smaller than 4×6 unless you are using their actual passport picture service. Because I wanted to spend $.46 versus $15, I opted for this choice and sent my pictures to print at my local Walgreens. Fortunately for me, they were kind enough to go ahead and cut all of my pictures into 2×2 size so I was loaded with 8 pictures of myself varying in zoom, background, etc.

Step 4: Get all of your needed documentation together, including your proof of identity and proof of citizenship.

Proof of identity includes previous passport, passport book, valid drivers license (not temporary or learner’s permit, military ID, or federal, state, municipal employee ID. If you just have a state ID, you will need to take supplemental information like a health insurance card, automobile insurance, etc.

Proof of citizenship includes a certified birth certificate or previous passport. For my fellow Shreveport-Bossier peeps born in Louisiana, you can go to the Caddo Parish Clerk of Court in the Parish Courthouse and pay $34 to get a certified copy of your birth certificate in about 30 minutes.

Step 5: Calculate your fees by using the fee calculator found on the passport website.

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Typically for an expedited brand new passport, you will pay a total of $195 payable by credit card (in some offices), check, cashier check, or money order.

Step 6: Make sure you have EVERYTHING!

It would be unfortunate to make a road trip to an office and realize you forgot something. Check multiple times to make sure you have everything listed above. I checked about 10 times.

Step 7: Embark on your road trip and arrive for your appointment 30 minutes early.

This proved especially helpful to me. I enlisted two friends to travel to Hot Springs with me and we arrived at the office around 9:22 am for my 10:00 am appointment. The Hot Springs office is EXTREMELY small, so they tend to only allow actual customers in. Once I went through security, I was checked in and asked for all of my information including my debit card. The agent at the check-in desk, picked one of my pictures, but I held on to the other 7 just in case.

Step 8: Wait.

Because the Hot Springs office is so small, the wait isn’t long at all. I waited maybe 10 minutes before I was called up to the window. The agent at the window complimented my app being typed, questioned my travel and said everything looked good, except my picture. She said my chin to picture ratio was too large (they have a guide to actually measure this) and told me I would have to leave to go get another picture. Luckily for me, I had 7 more pictures for her to choose from and one actually worked. She told me that was wise of me to bring multiple pictures. I had to sign some paperwork, they ran my card, and I was done before 10:00 am. Because my trip was in five days at this point, I was given instructions to return at 2:30 pm to pick up my passport.

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After some sight seeing and lunch, my friends and I returned to the office and I checked in, waited about 10 minutes and my passport was brought out to me. From arriving at 9:22 am and receiving my passport around 2:40 pm, I received my passport in 5 hours and 18 minutes.

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Hi I'm Jada! I'm a blogger and freelance writer. I love all things related to travel, food, and entertainment.

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