Stressful Travel Day & How to Get a Same Day Passport
It’s a story as old as America itself. A loving family sets out on a long and perilous trek to find the lost city of Atlantis only to discover that one of the family’s passports is expired! I recently found myself in this situation and had to quickly learn how to get a same day passport so we could get ourselves to the beach!
Ok, perhaps not many people run into that exact situation, but many people do need last minute passports for various reasons. Sometimes a baby is born and they forgot to get a passport before the big trip, sometimes people forget about when their passport expires and other times they need a passport for a last minute emergency trip.
Our Miami Passport Experience
A couple of weeks ago my wife, daughter and I flew from Las Vegas to Fort Lauderdale where we stayed for the night before our supposed quick flight down to Nassau. Our tickets to FLL and NAS were booked separately which meant I didn’t need to use her passport to check in for the first flight.
For some reason as we sat eating dinner in Fort Lauderdale I turned to my wife and said, “Your passport expires soon doesn’t it?” To which she said, “I don’t know.” I suddenly got a bad feeling in my stomach and went to check. The news was bad. Her passport had been expired for 10 days!
How to Get a Same Day Passport – Springing Into Action!
After getting mad at both my wife and myself for not knowing (and mostly blaming myself considering my profession), I used my experience and went into action. I needed to figure out exactly how to get a same day passport so we could get ourselves to the Bahamas!
Before going to bed, here are the steps I took to ensure we could get the same day passport the next day:
- Went online and located the nearest Passport Agency. In our case it was in Miami. You need an appointment and I was able to use their online system to set one for 10am the next morning.
- Filled out a complete Passport Renewal Application. I triple checked it for accuracy and then went downstairs and had the front desk print it. I also printed out proof of our hotel reservation in Atlantis and our flight to Nassau since proof of immediate travel is required for a same day passport.
- Downloaded the Passport Booth app on my iPhone and took a passport photo of my wife. I then saved the photo from the app and ordered a 4 X 6 print at the closest Walgreens for pickup the next morning. I prefer to pay $.23 for a print compared to $15 to have someone take the photo.
- Called JetBlue and advised them of our situation. Our flight was at 9am and there was no way we would make it. They notated our situation in their system and told us to call back when we knew more.
- Finally I went online and booked a car from Fort Lauderdale airport for the next day so we could drive to the passport office. Thankfully I was able to get a decent rate at the last minute.
With all of these things done, I went to bed feeling somewhat decent about how things COULD go the next day.
Our Experience Getting A Same Day Passport
The next morning I picked up the rental car and headed to Walgreens to pickup the photo. Next stop: the Passport Agency in Downtown Miami. The agency’s posted hours are 8am-3pm. But we discovered upon arrival at 9:30am that they don’t actually start taking people until after 10am. Island time!
The Passport Agency in Miami has a bit of a strange setup. You check-in on the ground floor in the parking garage and wait there until they are ready to send you up. This area isn’t air conditioned and can get hot. After getting sent up, you wait in another line to show your paperwork to the clerk. They will then give you a number sort of similar to how a DMV often works.
For us the majority of waiting took place downstairs. Once we were in the office, my wife had her number and was called by about 11:30am. Since she had her old passport, no additional identification was needed. She was told by the agent her passport would be ready by 3pm. Unfortunately that wasn’t accurate and my wife didn’t receive her same day passport until 4:30pm!
How to Get a Same Day Passport – Takeaways
Here are a few takeaways from the experience:
- It is actually quite easy to get a same day passport provided you have immediate travel and the proper documentation. Make sure all of your paperwork is in order. You have to have everything you need or you will be sent away. You do need to pay the normal passport fee plus the $60 expedited fee. But there is no additional fee for same day service.
- Don’t cut your time so short. Getting a same day passport is convenient, but the process does take time. Even if they have posted hours, it may take longer for you to receive our passport. For example, the office’s posted hours had it closing at 3pm, but it took until 4:30pm for my wife to receive her same day passport.
- As mentioned above the posted hours on their website may not be the actual hours. For example, in Miami they only start taking people two hours after posted opening. People stick around for hours after official closing waiting for passports. It is best to stick to your appointment time and make sure you are inside by closing time. You will get locked out otherwise!
- People who came in later in the day (1 to 2pm) were able to get their passports before closing. In other words, we could have come later and still probably left at the same time.
- Of course the biggest takeaway is that this should have never happened. Since many countries require a 6 month validity on your passport, renew it 6 months before expiration to avoid this craziness!
In the end, getting a same day passport is basically the same as getting a normal passport. While it can take awhile and you do have to have all of your documentation, the process isn’t too difficult. It could just be the difference between making it to the beach and getting left behind.